• Garden State Equality, TLDEF Secure Removal of Name Change Publication Requirement from New Jersey Supreme Court

    The Supreme Court of New Jersey has amended Rule 4:72 entitled, “Name Change Applications – Elimination of the Requirement of Newspaper Publication,” to abolish the requirements that people who obtain court-ordered name changes publish their former and new names in a newspaper. The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), along with Garden State Equality and the law firm Lowenstein Sandler submitted comments to the court in October 2020, supporting the then-proposed amendments to the court’s rules.

    Previously, New Jersey residents seeking to legally change their name by court order were required to publish separately both the notice of application and the court order granting the name change. Not only did this former process pose a significant financial barrier, but also threatened the safety and privacy of transgender people. Often citing financial hardship, transgender people are unable to legally change their identity documents and as a result, frequently encounter incidents of discrimination when a legal name on identification does not reflect their lived gender identity.

    With these changes, New Jersey now becomes the 18th U.S. jurisdiction to remove name change publication requirements. TLDEF’s Name Change Project works alongside law firms across the country, like Lowenstein Sandler, to provide pro bono legal assistance for transgender and non-binary people seeking legal name changes. For TLDEF’s Name Change Project participants, many of whom are people of color and often live on less than $1,000 each month, the court and publication fees are often insurmountable barriers to accessing affirming identity documents.

    “We applaud the New Jersey Supreme Court for recognizing the safety and privacy considerations that are often barriers for transgender name change petitioners,” said TLDEF’s Name Change Project Counsel Charlie Arrowood. "Removing the publication requirement for name changes not only makes the process more accessible and affordable to those who need it, but also removes the safety burden of publicizing private and personal information. At a time when violence against our community continues to break records, granting legal name changes and protecting private medical information will save lives.”

    "Removing the requirement for people to publish name changes in the newspaper gives transgender and non-binary people the dignity and privacy they deserve,” said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino. “Eliminating these financial and social barriers ensures that trans people of all socio-economic backgrounds have one less obstacle in the way of living full and healthy lives."

    “The rule change will significantly impact our Name Change Project clients and other low-income transgender and gender-nonconforming people, who will now avoid unnecessary risk and stigma from publicizing their name changes,” said Lowenstein Sandler attorneys Matthew Hintz and Zachary Berliner. “They will also have greater access to legal name changes without the fees required for two publications. We commend the Court for taking this initiative in the name of social justice and removing barriers to name changes.”

    This rule change comes at a time when TLDEF and partner law firms have been working with courts across the country to reduce systemic barriers to accessing name changes for low-income transgender people. TLDEF’s successful court advocacy has included efforts to file and grant name change petitions without a required court appearance—which is especially essential in the midst of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

    Over the past year, TLDEF’s Name Change Project participants have reported increased disparities as a result of the pandemic. Among TLDEF’s legal clients, the Name Change Project has found:

    • Unemployment has increased from 41% (pre-pandemic) to 58 percent;
    • Participants’ average income has decreased 11% from $982/mo to $873/mo; and
    • Rates of people experiencing poverty has increased from 59% to 65 percent.

    Despite COVID-19, the number of TLDEF’s name change intakes have remained consistent as affirming identity documents create greater access to social services, public benefits, housing, and health care, including Medicaid. Access to affirming identity documents can also reduce instances of anti-transgender violence.

    TLDEF attorneys David Brown and Charlie Arrowood submitted comments with the law firm Lowenstein Sandler LLP (Attorneys Matthew Hintz and Zachary Berliner) and Garden State Equality, both in New Jersey. The New Jersey Supreme Court Committee on Diversity, Inclusion, and Community Engagement, along with the Family Practice and Civil Practice Committees also endorsed the proposal to eliminate the requirement, citing both financial and safety concerns for transgender and non-binary people seeking name changes.

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  • Help Build a Monument to Marsha P. Johnson in Her Hometown

    Marsha P. Johnson was a pioneer of the Stonewall uprising, a drag queen, an Andy Warhol model, an actress, a revolutionary trans activist, and a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey.

    The family of Marsha P. Johnson, the City of Elizabeth, Union County, and Garden State Equality are proud to announce plans to honor Marsha P. Johnson with a monument in her hometown, celebrating both her roots in Elizabeth, New Jersey, and her pivotal role in the vanguard of the modern LGBTQ civil rights movement.

    Visit the GoFundMe page for the monument to contribute and honor Marsha P. Johnson's legacy!

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  • Featured post

    Garden State Equality Action Fund Announces 2020 Endorsements

    In an election as consequential as this year's, who we vote for matters more than ever. Today, the Garden State Equality Action Fund is proud to announce endorsements of 15 candidates for elected office at the federal level, including Joe Biden for President and Kamala Harris for Vice President, and 10 candidates for elected office at the state and local levels. The full list of the Garden State Equality Action Fund's 2020 endorsements is available below, along with quotes provided to InsiderNJ by some federal endorsees.
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  • Join us for UNITED IN PRIDE: New Jersey's Virtual Pride Celebration

    The Stonewall Uprising took place 51 years ago, and it was a violent riot against police brutality led by trans and queer women of color. One of those women was Marsha P. Johnson, a native of Elizabeth, New Jersey. In the years since, brave members of New Jersey’s LGBTQ community have continued in her footsteps.

    Today, of course, kicks off Pride Month, but as our nation struggles in this moment of crisis, it's more important than ever that we remember our history, act now in the spirit of Stonewall, and inspire those who will carry us into the future.

    Make no mistake, Pride will be different this year for many reasons. We cannot gather in Asbury Park on the first weekend in June, as we have done since 1992, for New Jersey’s Annual Statewide Pride Celebration. However, we will still celebrate our pride this year. We have postponed this year’s Pride event to coincide with National Coming Out Day on Sunday, October 11.

    And at noon on June 7, instead of kicking off our pride parade through the streets of Asbury Park, we have found a virtual way for our community to stand united. Jersey Pride, Inc. and Garden State Equality have partnered to bring you United in Pride: New Jersey’s Virtual Pride Celebration!

    Click here to RSVP for United in Pride and join us on Sunday, June 7 at 12:00 pm.

    This virtual celebration invites those participating, as well as those viewing, to reflect on what Pride means to them and how the spirit of pride can carry us forward during these challenging times.

    This year’s unique event will feature the same great entertainment you’ve come to expect — including La Bouche, Janice Robinson, Felipe Rose, and BETTY — along with plenty of very special guest speakers, local and regional LGBTQ performers, and a few surprise attractions.

    Throughout United in Pride, we’ll also be raising funds to support organizations in New Jersey fighting for racial justice. Our community understands what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don't matter. This Pride Month, we’ll be standing united with Black Americans to dismantle injustice.

    In pride and solidarity,

    Laura Pople
    Jersey Pride, Inc.

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  • Garden State Equality and 100+ LGBTQ Groups Condemn Racial Violence

    Today, Garden State Equality joined a letter, along with prominent LGBTQ and civil rights organizations, condemning racism, racial violence and police brutality while calling for action to combat these scourges. The letter is signed by 100+ leaders of the nation’s most prominent LGBTQ and civil rights organizations.

    LGBTQ Organizations Unite to Combat Racial Violence

    “If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.” Those words, written over 30 years ago by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, remind us that indifference can never bridge the divide of hate. And, today, they should serve as a call to action to all of us, and to the Movement for LGBTQ equality.

    This spring has been a stark and stinging reminder that racism, and its strategic objective, white supremacy, is as defining a characteristic of the American experience as those ideals upon which we claim to hold our democracy — justice, equality, liberty. 

    • We listened to the haunting pleas of George Floyd for the most basic of human needs — simply, breath — as a Minneapolis police officer kneeled with cruel indifference on his neck.
    • We felt the pain of Breonna Taylor’s boyfriend as he called 9-1-1 after plainclothes Louisville police kicked down the door of their home and shot her eight times as she slept in her bed.
    • We watched the shooting death of Ahmaud Arbery by white vigilantes in Brunswick, GA, aware that they evaded the consequence of their actions until the video surfaced and sparked national outrage.
    • We saw the weaponizing of race by a white woman who pantomimed fear in calling the police on Christian Cooper, a Black gay man bird-watching in Central Park.
    • We have heard and read about the killings of transgender people -- Black transgender women in particular — with such regularity, it is no exaggeration to describe it as a epidemic of violence. This year alone, we have lost at least 12 members of our community: Dustin Parker, Neulisa Luciano Ruiz, Yampi Méndez Arocho, Monika Diamond, Lexi, Johanna Metzger, Serena Angelique Velázquez Ramos, Layla Pelaez Sánchez, Penélope Díaz Ramírez, Nina Pop, Helle Jae O’Regan, and Tony McDade.

    All of these incidents are stark reminders of why we must speak out when hate, violence, and systemic racism claim — too often with impunity — Black Lives.

    The LGBTQ Movement’s work has earned significant victories in expanding the civil rights of LGBTQ people. But what good are civil rights without the freedom to enjoy them?

    Many of our organizations have made progress in adopting intersectionality as a core value and have committed to be more diverse, equitable, and inclusive. But this moment requires that we go further — that we make explicit commitments to embrace anti-racism and end white supremacy, not as necessary corollaries to our mission, but as integral to the objective of full equality for LGBTQ people.

    We, the undersigned, recognize we cannot remain neutral, nor will awareness substitute for action. The LGBTQ community knows about the work of resisting police brutality and violence. We celebrate June as Pride Month, because it commemorates, in part, our resisting police harassment and brutality at Stonewall in New York City, and earlier in California, when such violence was common and expected. We remember it as a breakthrough moment when we refused to accept humiliation and fear as the price of living fully, freely, and authentically.

    We understand what it means to rise up and push back against a culture that tells us we are less than, that our lives don't matter. Today, we join together again to say #BlackLivesMatter and commit ourselves to the action those words require.

    Affirmations, Dave Garcia, Executive Director

    AIDS Foundation of Chicago, Aisha N. Davis, Director of Policy

    American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Anthony D. Romero, Executive Director

    Arkansas Transgender Equity Collaborative, Tonya Estell, Board of Directors

    BAGLY, Inc. (Boston Alliance of LGBTQ Youth), Grace Sterling Stowell, Executive Director

    Basic Rights Oregon, Nancy Haque, Executive Director

    Bi Women Quarterly, Robyn Ochs, Editor

    Campaign for Southern Equality, Rev. Jasmine Beach-Ferrara, Executive Director

    Campus Pride, Shane Windmeyer, Executive Director

    Cathedral Of Hope UCC, Rev. Dr. Neil G Thomas, Senior Pastor

    Center on Halsted, Modesto Valle, CEO

    CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Denise Spivak, CEO

    Community Education Group, A.Toni Young, Executive Director

    Congregation Beit Simchat Torah, Sharon Kleinbaum, Senior Rabbi

    Curve Magazine, Merryn Johns, Editor-in-Chief

    Equality Arizona, Michael Soto, Executive Director

    Equality California, Rick Chavez Zbur, Executive Director

    Equality Delaware, Mark Purpura and Lisa Goodman, Board Chairs

    Equality Federation, Rebecca Isaacs, Executive Director

    Equality Florida, Nadine Smith, Executive Director

    Equality Illinois, Brian Johnson, CEO

    Equality New Mexico, Adrian N. Carver, Executive Director

    Equality New York, Amanda Babine, Executive Director

    Equality North Carolina, Kendra R Johnson, Executive Director

    Equality Ohio, Alana Jochum, Executive Director

    Equality Texas, Ricardo Martinez, CEO

    Equality Virginia, Vee Lamneck, Executive Director

    Fair Wisconsin, Megin McDonell, Executive Director

    Fairness Campaign, Tamara Russell, Board Member

    Family Equality, Denise Brogan-Kator, Chief Policy Officer

    Freedom for All Americans, Kasey Suffredini, CEO & National Campaign Director

    Freedom Oklahoma, Allie Shinn, Executive Director

    FreeState Justice, Mark Procopio, Executive Director

    Garden State Equality, Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director

    Gay City: Seattle's LGBTQ Center, Fred Swanson, Executive Director

    Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC), Kelsey Louie, CEO

    Gender Rights Maryland, Sharon Brackett, Board Chair

    Gender Spectrum, Joel Baum, Senior Director

    Genders & Sexualities Alliance Network (GSA Network), Geoffrey Winder & Ginna Brelsford, Co-Executive Directors

    Georgia Equality, Jeff Graham, Executive Director

    GLAAD, Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO

    GLBT Alliance of Santa Cruz, Gloria Nieto, Board Member

    GLBTQ Legal Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), Janson Wu, Executive Director

    GLMA: Health Professionals Advancing LGBTQ Equality, Hector Vargas, Executive Director

    GLSEN, Eliza Byard, Executive Director

    GSAFE, Brian Juchems, Co-Director

    Human Rights Campaign, Alphonso David, President

    Immigration Equality, Aaron C. Morris, Executive Director

    Ingersoll Gender Center, Karter Booher, Executive Director

    Lambda Legal, Kevin Jennings, CEO

    Lesbians of Color Symposium Collective, Inc., Shaunya Thomas, Co - Founder / President

    LGBT Community Center of the Desert, Mike Thompson, CEO

    LGBT Life Center, Stacie Walls, CEO

    LGBTQ Center OC, Peg Corley, Executive Director

    LGBTQ Victory Fund & LGBTQ Victory Institute, Mayor Annise Parker, President & CEO

    Louisiana Trans Advocates, Peyton Rose Michelle, Director of Operations

    Massachusetts Transgender Political Coalition, Tre'Andre Valentine, Executive Director

    MassEquality, Tanya V. Neslusan, Executive Director

    Matthew Shepard Foundation, Jason Marsden, Executive Vice President

    Movement Advancement Project, Ineke Mushovic, Executive Director

    National Black Justice Coalition, David Johns, Executive Director

    National Center for Lesbian Rights, Imani Rupert-Gordon, Executive Director

    National Center for Transgender Equality, Mara Keisling, Executive Director

    National Equality Action Team (NEAT), Brian Silva, Founder & Executive Director

    National LGBTQ Task Force, Rea Carey, Executive Director

    National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance (NQAPIA), Glenn D. Magpantay, Executive Director

    New York City Anti-Violence Project, Beverly Tillery, Executive Director

    NMAC, Paul Kawata, Executive Director

    Oakland LGBTQ Community Center, Joe Hawkins, CEO  

    Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Erin Uritus, CEO

    One Colorado, Daniel Ramos, Executive Director

    One Iowa, Courtney Reyes, Executive Director

    One Orlando Alliance, Jennifer Foster, Executive Director

    Our Family Coalition, Sam Ames, Interim Executive Director

    Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, Erin Uritus, CEO

    OutFront Minnesota, Monica Meyer, Executive Director

    OutNebraska, Abbi Swatsworth, Executive Director

    Pacific Center for Human Growth, Michelle Gonzalez, Executive Director

    PFLAG National, Brian K. Bond, Executive Director

    PRC, Brett Andrews, CEO

    Pride at Work, Jerame Davis, Executive Director

    PROMO, Stephen Eisele, Executive Director

    Rainbow Community Center of Contra Costa County, Kiku Johnson, Executive Director

    Resource Center, Cece Cox, CEO

    Sacramento LGBT Community Center, David Heitstuman, CEO

    San Francisco AIDS Foundation, Joe Hollendoner, CEO

    San Francisco Community Health Center, Lance Toma, CEO

    SF LGBT Center, Rebecca Rolfe, Executive Director  

    SAGE, Michael Adams, CEO

    San Diego LGBT Community Center, Cara Dessert, CEO

    Sero Project, Sean Strub, Executive Director

    Silver State Equality, André C. Wade, State Director

    Tennessee Equality Project, Chris Sanders, Executive Director

    The Diversity Center, Sharon E Papo, Executive Director

    The Gala Pride and Diversity Center, Michelle Call, Executive Director

    The Lesbian, Gay Bisexual and Transgender Community Center, Glennda Testone, Executive Director

    The LGBTQ Center, Long Beach, Porter Gilberg, Executive Director

    The LGBTQ Center, NYC, Reg Calcagno, Senior Director of Government Affairs

    The Pride Center of Maryland, Mimi Demissew, Executive Director

    The Source LGBT+ Center, Brian Poth, Executive Director

    The Trevor Project, Amit Paley, CEO

    Transgender Education Network of Texas (TENT), Emmett Schelling, Executive Director

    Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF), Andy Marra, Executive Director

    TransOhio, James Knapp, Chair & Executive Director

    Truth Wins Out, Wayne Besen, Executive Director

    Uptown Gay & Lesbian Alliance (UGLA), Carl Matthes, President

    Woodhull Freedom Foundation, Ricci Levy, President & CEO

    Wyoming Equality, Sara Burlingame, Executive Director

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  • LGBTQ Mental Health & Resilience Forum

    About two years ago I was diagnosed with bipolar II disorder.

    My life was not a pretty picture leading up to that point, but with the help of mental health professionals along with friends and family, I was able to begin a constructive path towards healing.

    But I’m not alone. Almost half of Americans will experience a mental health issue in their lifetime, and the rates are even higher within the LGBTQ community.

    That’s why I’m so glad Garden State Equality is hosting a forum on LGBTQ Mental Health & Resilience in honor of Mental Health Awareness Month. Will you join us tomorrow on Thursday, May 28 at 1:30 pm?

    During our forum tomorrow, you’ll hear from Garden State Equality’s all-star team of health professionals and licensed clinicians, along with our special guest Dr. David Ford of Monmouth University.

    While Garden State Equality is putting special focus on mental health awareness this month, it’s even more important that we all continue that work year round to fight stigma, promote pathways to care, and reduce the mental health disparities in our community.

    Thanks for your support.

    Jon Oliveira
    Director of Communications & Membership
    Garden State Equality

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  • Join us for a Town Hall on SOGI Data Collection

    Last week I wrote to you about how important it is for New Jersey to begin collecting demographic data on sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI) among COVID-19 cases.

    Tonight, we’re hosting a Town Hall on LGBTQ Data Collection and COVID-19 with an expert panel. We’re thrilled to be joined for tonight’s Town Hall with special guests Assemblywoman Valerie Huttle, Perry N. Halkitis (Dean of Rutgers School of Public Health), Jackie J. Baras (Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, and Scout (National LGBT Cancer Network).

    Will you join us at 6:00 pm tonight?

    Click here to RSVP on Zoom.

    Click here to get a reminder on Facebook.

    Believe me, I know that “data collection” doesn’t sound like the most exciting issue, but it’s absolutely critical to ensuring state resources and funding can be appropriately distributed. If LGBTQ aren’t counted in the data… we’re going to be left out of the response.

    I hope you can join us tonight for this important conversation. Click here to RSVP on Zoom or get a reminder on Facebook!

    Bianca Mayes, MPH, CHES
    Health & Wellness Coordinator
    Garden State Equality

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  • New Jersey is falling behind on SOGI data collection

    There’s increasing momentum nationwide to collect COVID-19 demographic data for sexual orientation and gender identity (SOGI), but New Jersey is already falling behind.

    Just this week, Pennsylvania Governor Wolfe announced his state will begin collecting SOGI data, and four other states are advancing similar policies.

    Like all marginalized communities, LGBTQ are disproportionately impacted by health disparities and discrimination in healthcare, making our community more vulnerable to COVID-19, but to enable effective, targeted distribution of state resources and funding, we need data!

    It’s time for New Jersey’s health and policy leaders to act on SOGI data collection. Can you help us spread the word by sharing this graphic:

    Our state is already tracking the health disparities among people of color and the barriers to care they face in this pandemic, and sadly, LGBTQ are victims of the same forces of discrimination. For LGBTQ people of color, the risk of COVID-19 is only magnified.

    With our state at the epicenter of the pandemic, we have no time to waste.

    It's time for sexual orientation and gender identity data collection in New Jersey.

    Bianca Mayes, MPH, CHES
    Health & Wellness Coordinator
    Garden State Equality

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  • LGBTQ older adults need us — now.

    As COVID-19 sweeps across New Jersey and disproportionately harms older adults, we must act immediately to protect LGBTQ seniors and seniors living with HIV in longterm care facilities.

    We don’t have a moment to waste. It's time for New Jersey to pass A680 / S1926 — the Bill of Rights for LGBTQ Older Adults.

    Tell New Jersey lawmakers: pass the Bill of Rights for LGBTQ Older Adults! Click here to sign our petition.

    This bill would provide specific, enumerated protections for LGBTQ seniors and seniors living with HIV in longterm care facilities — ensuring they are treated with dignity, respect, and without discrimination — so that they can get the critical healthcare they need right now.

    We know that older adults are disproportionately at risk for COVID-19, and LGBTQ seniors face significant health disparities and barriers to healthcare which only magnifies those risks.

    Stand with us today to protect our community’s elders. Sign our petition now and urge lawmakers to protect LGBTQ older adults in longterm care facilities.

    Even with the current crisis our nation faces, I assure you that Garden State Equality will never slow down or stop fighting for New Jersey’s LGBTQ community. Together, we will overcome this moment, and we’ll be stronger for it.

    Thanks for all you do. We hope you and your family are safe and healthy.

    Christian Fuscarino
    Executive Director
    Garden State Equality Action Fund

    PS – Our grassroots group “Elders for Equality” is organizing online with weekly meetings to stay connected and advance equality for older adults. Join our Facebook Group by clicking here and become a part of the conversation.

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  • Join us at The Equality Soiree on March 6

    We’re going to close out the winter season in style with a party you’ll never forget.

    Please join us for an evening of glitz and glamor at our inaugural Equality Soiree in Jersey City on Friday, March 6 at 7:00 pm!

    To celebrate this exciting new event, we’re offering EARLY BIRD tickets until February 14. Click here to buy your tickets now!

    The Equality Soiree will be hosted at The Ashford in downtown Jersey City, just a few steps from the PATH station. Your ticket to our premier event includes an open bar with dazzling cocktails and passed hors d’oeuvres.

    Attire: Winter Festive — white and/or sequin encouraged.

    After February 14, Early Bird tickets will end and space is limited — so don’t wait! Click here to buy your tickets today.

    We’ll see you at The Equality Soiree.

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