Forum for Equality Endorses New Orleans Human Rights Commission Amendment

Forum for Equality was on the front lines in the early 1990’s to pass one of the first inclusive non-discrimination ordinances in the South, to protect New Orleans’ citizens from discrimination in employment, public accommodations and housing. It was the first of its kind to call for protecting people against discrimination based on sexual orientation and, when later expanded, to include gender identity protections.

Unfortunately, soon after the measure passed, a federal judge ruled that the City did not have the authority to enforce the ordinance. Therefore, the current Human Relations Commission cannot fully investigate or arbitrate discrimination claims, including those brought by members of the LGBTQ community.

Now, we have an opportunity to truly move New Orleans forward. On November 16, a proposed amendment to the City Charter will appear on the ballot to formally establish a new Human Rights Commission. This body will have the full backing of City government and the authority necessary to realize the vision of an inclusive and welcoming City.

The parish wide ballot measure – HRC Amendment – Art. V, Secs. 5-1101 through 5-1103 – CC, will read as follows:

Shall Article V of the Home Rule Charter of the City of New Orleans be amended to add Sections 5-1101 through 5-1103 thereto to create a local Human Rights Commission to safeguard all individuals in the City of New Orleans from discrimination and to exercise all powers, duties, and functions provided by applicable state and municipal law?

The Forum for Equality strongly recommends a YES vote on the proposed amendment.

We believe creating a Human Rights Commission under the Home Rule Charter is the right thing to do. As the Forum for Equality Executive Director Sarah Jane Guidry, said, “Giving the Human Rights Commission the power to investigate, mediate, and resolve discrimination claims will ensure that efforts to end discrimination are people-centered and efficient. The courtroom should be the last resort for seeking relief, and this initiative would create systems to resolve these cases before they escalate to that level.”

Voting yes will safeguard residents from discrimination and strengthen the City’s human rights laws – while also helping to prevent costly litigation.

Further information on this and other issues on the ballot can be found at the ActionNewOrleans page.

To learn more about the upcoming election, including information on early voting, go to GeauxVote.

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FFE PAC Endorsements for October 12 Election

With tomorrow’s start of early voting, Forum for Equality PAC has made the following endorsements for the October 12th Primary. These endorsements reflect our organization’s mission of equality for all, and we know that equality begins at home. Our mission, at its core, is simple: we believe LGBTQ Louisianans should be able to live freely in every parish across the Pelican State.

We are here because we want to make sure you and your loved ones are safe, secure, and thriving in the state we call home. Be a part of that movement by supporting these candidates and help build a State of equality here in Louisiana. We highly encourage you to exercise your right to vote and to share these endorsements with your family, friends, and fellow football fans.

The endorsed candidates listed below have met the required threshold for the Forum for Equality PAC according to the guidelines for their respective races. FFE PAC may revisit certain races after the October 12th Primary to help guide our community’s choices in the November run-off elections.

To learn more about your polling locations or early voting hours, please go to the Secretary of State’s website: GeauxVote!

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Acclaim Awards Keynote Speaker is Danica Roem!

Announcing this year’s Acclaim Awards keynote speaker – Danica Roem!

As the first out transgender woman elected to a state legislature, Danica Roem is blazing a bold, new trail in politics. She represents Virginia’s 13th district in the Virginia House of Delegates. Her inspiring and transformative 2017 campaign gained national and international attention. While in office, Danica has continued to speak truth to power and is fighting hard for her constituents, including through ongoing efforts to expand Medicaid coverage to 400,000 Virginia residents.

Buy tickets here: Acclaim Awards

2019 Acclaim Award Recipient

ADL’s South Central regional office provides services and resources to the three states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas. The office, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, was created over sixty years ago. The region combats anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred and bigotry by investigating and exposing extremism, protecting as well as advocating for civil rights and religious freedom, educating children and adults in how to promote diversity, inclusivity and respect through our many programs and resources and by fostering interfaith relations.

Buy tickets here: Acclaim Awards

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2019 Acclaim Award Recipient

Buy tickets here: Acclaim Awards

About ADL South Central

The 106-year old mission of the Anti-Defamation League is “to stop the defamation of the Jewish people and secure justice and fair treatment for all.”  In furthering this call to action, ADL has become one of the world’s foremost organizations combatting anti-Semitism and bias, hatred and bigotry in all of its forms.  ADL believes that the Jewish community will never be safe until all vulnerable communities are safe.  To do this, ADL works with marginalized and vulnerable communities across our society as an advocate and as an ally.

ADL’s South Central regional office provides services and resources to the three states of Louisiana, Mississippi and Arkansas.  The office, located in New Orleans, Louisiana, was created over sixty years ago. The region combats anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred and bigotry by investigating and exposing extremism, protecting as well as advocating for civil rights and religious freedom, educating children and adults in how to promote diversity, inclusivity and respect through our many programs and resources and by fostering interfaith relations.  The office handles victim complaints of anti-Semitism and all forms of discrimination. Additionally, ADL’s No Place for Hate® and A World of Difference® educational programming brings anti-bullying and inclusivity framework and training for nearly one hundred schools and thousands of students throughout the region each year.  In recent years, ADL has begun a conversation within the healthcare community to address how bias in that setting impacts quality of care, as well as workplace and patient experience.

ADL was a leading voice in the passage of the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act and continues to work with states and communities to create meaningful and comprehensive protections against hate-based violence and crimes through our 50 States Against Hate® initiative.  In the South Central Region, this includes working in Arkansas to pass a statewide hate crimes law, and working with communities throughout the region to pass comprehensive municipal hate crimes ordinances.  An essential part of this process has been training law enforcement around hate motivated crime, so they recognize it when it occurs, and, recently, starting to work with law enforcement to understand how their own implicit bias impacts their ability to serve and protect vulnerable or marginalized communities.

ADL’s South Central Region, its staff, advisory board, and lay leadership, remain committed to Fighting Hate for Good, and continuing the important work of building a more inclusive, accepting and respectful society.

Buy tickets here: Acclaim Awards


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Statement Regarding WWL

We are appalled by a Tweet that was sent by WWL’s official Twitter account calling one of their own employees a derogatory epithet. This deplorable act highlights the hostility that frequently confronts LGBTQ employees in the workplace, and it also reveals what can happen when that hostility has been tolerated and/or ignored by management. This situation proves that WWL (and likely many employers with a social media presence) needs to reconsider who has access to corporate social media accounts. Fortunately, WWL has recognized that this was unacceptable and says that it will investigate and take corrective action. It is our sincere hope that they will make good on such promises.

Forum for Equality offers its assistance to WWL in conducting diversity training for all of its employees, which apparently is desperately needed. While diversity training may not change the hearts and minds of its employees, it is essential in changing toxic work environments that give way to incidents such as this one. Companies and their management teams must make it clear that bigotry in the workplace will not be tolerated.

In fact, Forum for Equality has a business initiative, Louisiana Equality Mean Business, which is designed to have businesses commit themselves to being a quality work environment that is free from discrimination. In addition to recognizing companies which pride themselves on being inclusive, FFE also conducts diversity training for businesses and groups of all sizes. These programs are just a few of the many ways in which Forum for Equality continues to work toward making the Pelican State a welcoming home for all Louisianans. For more information, please visit www.forumforequality.org and www.laemb.org.

SarahJane Guidry
Executive Director
4519 S. Claiborne Ave. 
New Orleans, LA 70125
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Forum for Equality and Louisiana Trans Advocates Condemn AG Jeff Landry for Attacking LGBTQ Rights at the U.S. Supreme Court

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
AUGUST 30, 2019
CONTACT:

Dylan Waguespack, Board President, Louisiana Trans Advocates
504-450-7496; dylan@latransadvocates.org
SarahJane Guidry, Executive Director, Forum for Equality
504-301-6006; sarahjane@forumforequality.org

AUGUST 30, 2019 — Attorney General Jeff Landry filed a brief with the U.S. Supreme Court on Aug 23 asking the court to rule against three individuals who had been fired for being LGBTQ. The three cases include the first transgender civil rights case to be heard by the high court.

“Once again, Jeff Landry has shown that he is out-of-touch with the majority of Louisianans who support the idea no one should be fired because of who they are,” says SarahJane Guidry, Executive Director of Forum for Equality. “This is a cruel, unnecessary move that does nothing to strengthen our state’s economy and grow our workforce. If President Trump  and Jeff Landry get their way at the Supreme Court, it will give the Trump administration the license to take even more dangerous actions against transgender people, including denying health care or kicking people out of their homes. It would put kids and families at risk.”

The employees in these cases, including ACLU clients Aimee Stephens who was fired for being transgender and Don Zarda who was fired for being gay, have argued that discrimination against LGBTQ people is unlawful sex discrimination. A number of federal appeals courts have said that the Civil Rights Act and other federal laws that prohibit sex discrimination apply to LGBTQ people, as have dozens of state and district courts.

Advocates say that a victory in these cases would be just one step towards achieving comprehensive nondiscrimination protections for the LGBTQ community nationwide. In Louisiana, the legislature has failed to pass these protections, which have been introduced for debate for nearly 30 years.

“With the Trump Administration’s relentless attacks on LGBTQ equality, the need to pass comprehensive protections for LGBTQ people statewide is greater than ever,” said Dylan Waguespack, Board President of Louisiana Trans Advocates. “Today marks the one-year anniversary of the still unsolved murder of Vontashia Bell, an 18 year old transgender woman in Shreveport. Louisiana is home to 1 in 10 trans victims of murder in recent years, despite our state only accounting for 1 percent of the US population. The incredible barriers that transgender people face in accessing safe housing, employment, health care, and education in our state, alongside the increasingly dangerous national rhetoric fueling hatred for our community, speaks to a clear need for government intervention to provide for our safety and equal opportunity. Lives are on the line.”

The cases will be argued before the U.S. Supreme Court on October 8.

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FFE Statement Regarding Ralph Abraham’s ad

Forum for Equality’s statement:

Statement from Louisiana Trans Advocates:

Make sure you vote this October.

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See you at the annual meeting!

Come join Forum for Equality for our 2019 Annual Membership Meeting. We will be electing our board members and discussing what we have been working on this past year as well as what is on the horizon. There will be a cash bar with complimentary desserts.
ELECTION OF BOARD MEMBERS
The Executive Board of Forum for Equality Louisiana submits the following names for election to a two year term on FFE Louisiana’s Board of Directors: Randy Evans, Ryan McNeely, Chris Otten, Glenn Reames, Brandon Robb, Carlos Rodriguez, and Dylan Waguespack.

Those listed above will be voted on at the Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, July 10th. Those elected at that time will join the following Board Members who were elected last year for a two year term — Mary Griggs, Ramsey Marcello, Ileana Ortiz, Sebastian Rey, Julie Thibodaux, Kenny Tucker, and Michelle Young.

Facebook event posting HERE !

Renew your membership today – follow this link!

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Proud of You

2019 is whizzing by, but Pride month is a time to stop and reflect on why we do what we do. It’s easy to get caught up in the work we do and forget why we’re here. Our mission, at its core, is simple: we believe LGBTQ Louisianans should be able to live our lives wherever we call home.

Mary, we know you value this work. Will you make a gift today to support our mission?

Every donation is a valuable pledge to stand up for LGBTQ Louisianans all year long, and the best way to show you’re committed is to become a monthly donor. Also, all funds raised during June will be matched dollar for dollar up to $5,000!

At Forum for Equality, we see all across Louisiana just how many people dedicate their time and energy to fight for LGBTQ equality and justice. We are here because we want to make sure you and your loved ones are safe, secure, and thriving in the state you call home.

With pride,

SarahJane Guidry
Executive Director, Forum for Equality

PS: Come enjoy a bake sale with a cocktail as we close out Pride month with Pastries for Pride Happy Hour tomorrow! Doubletree by Hilton New Orleans will be slinging all the sweet treats at the 700 Club on Friday, June 28th from 5-8PM. 100% of the proceeds will benefit Forum for Equality.

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Double Your Pride!

This year marks the 50th Anniversary of the Stonewall Riots. We have come so far from Marsha Johnson throwing that first brick, and shattering many of the closets that have confined us. We hope that you have been honoring Pride Month with ways that remind you of how beautiful, whole and perfect you are, just as you are.  

At times, the work that we do and the environment that we live in can be taxing. To be able to live out and proud is a right that we did not always have, and in some parts of Louisiana that is still our reality.

We are asking you to honor this year’s Pride Month with action — help us expand the equal rights of all LGBTQ Louisianans by supporting our work with a gift from the heart. We have an anonymous donor that will match dollar for dollar up to $5,000 this month! A donation of $10, $100 or $1,000 will push us closer to our goal and help us push closer towards equality. Show your pride with a gift here.

As we see the progression of cities and parishes expand the rights of our community, from Shreveport to New Orleans to Alexandria to Grambling (yes, Grambling!), we know that when it comes to advancing equality, it is all of us or none of us! No matter who we are or who we love, we have pride in ourselves and each other. We will continue to march forward and build a State of Equality.

We hope that you will support our work by giving a gift from the heart this month.

With Pride,

SarahJane Guidry

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