The ACLU of Louisiana joins the New Orleans City Council in commending Forum for Equality, in recognition of Forum's work seeking equal rights for everyone. The ACLU has long worked with Forum to advance the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals in New Orleans and throughout Louisiana.
"This award is well deserved," said Marjorie R. Esman, ACLU of Louisiana Executive Director. "Forum for Equality, its staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly for many years to achieve equal rights for the LGBTQ residents of Louisiana. Equal rights belong to everyone, and we are proud to partner with Forum wherever we can to achieve that goal."
The sad fact is that New Orleans is the only city in Louisiana that protects everyone, including LGBTQ people, from discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodations. "The people of New Orleans know that a true community values all of its members," said Esman. "We hope that other communities will recognize what New Orleans already knows, and we will work with Forum to seek protections in other parts of Louisiana where discrimination remains legal."
In 2010, the ACLU of Louisiana and Forum for Equality sought to amend Louisiana's adoption laws so that children in need of families could be adopted by same-sex couples. New Orleans City Council President Arnie Fielkow testified in favor of the legislation, on behalf of the rights of children who need loving families. "The legislation didn't pass, but the conversation has just begun," said Fielkow. "It's time for Louisiana to recognize that same-sex families provide the same love and support as any other family. I'm proud to work with Forum, the ACLU, and anyone else seeking to protect the rights of LGBTQ people and to expand the availability of loving homes for children."
In recognition of the struggle for family equality, Forum has given its Political Action Award to Kelly Bryson, a mother prevented by Louisiana law from legally adopting one of her children. Bryson, a tireless advocate for her son's right to have two legal parents, has testified repeatedly at the Louisiana Legislature on behalf of the rights of children with same-sex parents. The ACLU stands with Forum in commending Kelly Bryson for her courage and tenacity. "Kelly's commitment to family equality serves as a model for any parent," continued Esman. "She will prevail, because she is right: good families come in different forms."
The recent Florida Appellate Court ruling overturning a ban on adoption by gay people - in which the ACLU represented the family seeking adoption - sets the tone for the future of families in this country. "It's a matter of time before Louisiana families receive the legal protection just awarded in Florida," Councilman Fielkow said. "The sooner the better, because children are at stake." Esman agreed: "The ACLU, Forum for Equality, and people like Kelly Bryson won't stop until all Louisiana residents and their families have the rights that they deserve.