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    GARDEN STATE EQUALITY DECLARES ENDORSEMENT FOR MAYOR STEVEN FULOP IN JERSEY CITY 2017 MAYORAL RACE

    JERSEY CITY - Garden State Equality (GSE), New Jersey’s largest LGBT organization, proudly announces its endorsement for Mayor Steven Fulop in Jersey City’s 2017 mayoral election. GSE’s decision is based off Mayor Fulop’s dedication to creating a sense of acceptance and equality in his community, leading Advocate Magazine to rank Jersey City as the “Queerest City in America” in 2017. "I am incredibly grateful to receive an endorsement from Garden State Equality, who has served as both a leader and partner in our effort to build a more inclusive and welcoming Jersey City," said Fulop. "From providing transgender healthcare to city employees, to providing a dedicated LGBT police liaison, to receiving a perfect score on the equality index for several years, we have committed to enhancing the sense of inclusion that has come to define Jersey City." Fulop has and continues to treat LGBT rights as one of his top priorities. Having supported marriage equality long before it became legal in New Jersey, Fulop held the first legal same-sex marriage during a midnight ceremony upon statewide legalization in 2013. Since then, Fulop persisted in putting the LGBT community at the forefront of his agenda. Because of his advocacy, Jersey City has received a perfect score on the Human Rights Campaign’s LGBT Equality Index, which measures a city’s commitment to LGBT equality, for four consecutive years. In 2016, Jersey City was one of only 60 cities nationwide to receive a perfect score in the annual Municipal Equality Index report. “Steven Fulop has created a city that is a model for the rest of New Jersey,” said Christian Fuscarino, Garden State Equality's Executive Director. “Mayor Fulop has done a remarkable job of making LGBTQ needs a priority and establishing Jersey City as home to one of the largest LGBT populations in New Jersey. He is one of our best allies in the state.” GSE’s endorsement is also prompted by Fulop’s noteworthy history of fighting for transgender rights. With Fulop leading the way, Jersey City was the first city in New Jersey to include transgender related healthcare coverage to city employees. Additionally, Fulop has made strides to push back against President Trump by signing an executive order making all bathrooms in municipal buildings gender neutral.   About Garden State Equality Garden State Equality is New Jersey’s statewide advocacy and education organization for the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community. GSE, in collaboration with community partners, led efforts to ensure nondiscrimination for transgender and gender nonconforming people in NJ, passed the most comprehensive anti-bullying law in the country, ended sexual orientation and gender identity/expression change efforts in NJ (sometimes called conversion therapy), and brought marriage equality to the Garden State. In this post-marriage environment, GSE's main focuses are youth, transgender people, and seniors, and the organization's work on those issues is informed by racial, economic, and disability justice concerns. GSE is working on campaigns to address safe environments for youth, improvement of health services that meet LGBT community needs, and respectful treatment of seniors. Beyond that, GSE supports NJ’s activist community by bringing an LGBT lens to the shared struggle for justice.   ###  
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    Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset and Garden State Equality host a LGBT Healthcare Conference

    Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital Somerset, a member of RWJBarnabas Health, and Garden State Equality will host New Jersey’s first Healthcare Conference for the LGBT Community on Friday, Oct. 6 at Raritan Valley Country Club, 747 State Route 28, Bridgewater. The free conference is supported through a grant from Sanofi.
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    BREAKING: Christie Signs Health Insurance Bill

    Wow. Today is a great day for equality! We just learned that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has signed a second piece of important legislation -- this one mandating that health insurance companies must cover transition-related care in most plans sold in the Garden State! It is important for our members to know that this applies to much of the private marketplace, to Medicaid, to the State Health Benefits Plan, to the School Employees Health Benefits Program, and to the University Correctional Health Care plan, which covers inmates with the Department of Corrections. Unfortunately, this will not affect the self-funded marketplace. So there is still work to be done. That said, this is a tremendous victory, and we need to say thank you yet again. So thank you to Governor Christie, to our legislative allies, to our community partners, to our members, and to all of the New Jerseyans who fought hard for this win. What a way to close out the week!
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  • BREAKING: Victory for Transgender Students - Christie Signs Guidance Bill

    Today New Jersey Governor Chris Christie signed a law mandating guidance from the Commissioner of Education on transgender students. New Jersey will now be the 11th state (+ DC) to issue statewide guidance.

    This is a huge victory for equality in New Jersey, and we want to send a big thank you to Governor Christie for standing on the right side of history on this one. As he did with the conversion therapy ban, Governor Christie took a stand for LGBT youth in New Jersey by signing this important legislation, and he deserves our thanks.

    We also want to thank our legislative allies, and the bill’s sponsors Senators Ruiz and Vitale, Assembly Persons Caride, Downey, Eustace, Gusciora, Jasey, Vaineiri Huttle, and Wimberly. We want to give an extra special shout out to Assemblywoman Valerie Vaineiri Huttle, who had the vision to introduce this bill on behalf of some of the most vulnerable members of our community -- transgender children -- and who worked with GSE and her fellow legislators to ensure that it passed. From start to finish she has been there for our community, and we owe her a debt of gratitude.

    We also want to thank our community partners, and all of our members who fought hard for this win. We want to thank the parents and children who came down to the statehouse, told their stories, and put a human face on this story. This victory belongs to all of you and to the young people throughout the state of New Jersey who will be able to attend safer, more welcoming schools thanks to your efforts. 

     

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    New Law for NJ Families!

    Garden State Equality is proud to announce that legislation - sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg and Assemblywoman Pam Lampitt - that would expand New Jersey's infertility coverage laws to same sex couples and single women was signed into law yesterday by the governor. This new law passed with overwhelming bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature. Today, New Jersey joins Maryland and California as leaders in protecting the rights of the LGBT community and ensuring equal access to infertility treatment regardless of sexual preference or marital status.
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  • UNITED 2017: New Jersey LBGT Organizations Host Unique Activism Conference

    ASBURY PARK, N.J. – Jersey Pride, Inc. is joining with Garden State Equality to produce a unique conference on community activism and organizing to be held this month at the Asbury Hotel in Asbury Park. Intended to inspire and inform, the conference comes at a critical time in the wave of resistance efforts across the country and coincides with the ending of the new administration’s first 100 days in office.

    United 2017: Community Activism & Organizing in an Age of AltReason will be a one-day conference held in Asbury Park, NJ, at the Asbury Hotel on Sunday, April 30, from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. It is intended to help engage, direct, and enable those interested in community organizing and activism to take steps knowledgeably, responsibly and with confidence and community.
    “Our goal is for attendees to leave the conference with an understanding of and confidence in how to engage with the activism community,” said Laura Pople, conference organizer and president of Jersey Pride, Inc. “We also hope they learn how to prioritize issues they feel strongly about, how to use and interpret messaging and language, and, essentially, what to do with the energy, frustration and despair many are currently experiencing under the current administration, especially.”

    One unique feature of the conference will be a “political carousel” held during the morning program. This session will offer informal question-and answer-sessions with four local politicians, enabling all conference attendees the opportunity to discuss critical issues with each.

    The conference will kick off with a plenary address by nationally recognized media and communications expert and LGBT leader Cathy Renna. Reverend Gil Caldwell, a retired United Methodist minister and lifelong activist in the Civil Rights Movement, will close the conference with a presentation about his documentary From Selma to Stonewall. Other presenters include Kathy O’Brien & Axel Torres Marrero (Hyacinth AIDS Foundation), Aaron Potenza & Ben Fisher (Garden State Equality), trainer Lori Tarke, Michelle Julet (The Business of Doing Good), Carol Watchler (GLSEN), author Seth Rainess, Sue Doster (Co-chair, National Equality March for Unity and Pride), Gordon Sauer (SAGE), Michael Billy (Jersey City Stands) and Frank Van Dalen (Interpride).

    The conference is sponsored by The Asbury Hotel and Out in New Jersey. The cost for attendance is $75, with discounts for seniors and students. Scholarships are also being offered in an effort to increase accessibility. Information and registration is available online at united.jerseypride.org.

     

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    BREAKING: Our headquarters attacked!

    GARDEN STATE EQUALITY HEADQUARTERS IN ASBURY PARK ATTACKED IN WEEKEND ACT OF VANDALISM Yesterday afternoon, Saturday, March 4th, Garden State Equality statewide headquarters in Asbury Park was attacked and vandalized in an act of hatred against the LGBT community. Executive Director Christian Fuscarino was inside working at the time, but did not sustain injuries. "This kind of incident shows that hate knows no boundaries. It is not restricted by geography, even in a state as historically progressive as ours. While we have been shaken by this attack, the LGBT community in New Jersey will not be intimidated, nor will it be silenced. We will continue to fight for equality for all our members, and for any individual or group who finds themselves the victim of a similar hateful and dangerous act," said Fuscarino. Garden State Equality is working with the Asbury Park Police Department on identifying the attackers responsible. The attackers hit the door exactly where the rainbow flag was affixed and the organization expects the police should & will investigate it as an attack on all LGBT people. In the meantime, friends of Garden State Equality from across New Jersey are voicing their support for the organization in light of the attack. ‎"Garden State Equality is on the front lines of the fight to advance equality for all. An attack against any community is an attack against us all. I condemn acts of hate against all communities, whether Jewish, Muslim or LGBT, in the strongest possible terms. We must stand united with love against the ‎shadow of hate that has been cast over our great nation‎" said Senator Cory Booker (D) "Garden State Equality is a pillar of our community fighting to make sure every citizen of New Jersey has the respect and equal rights they deserve, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity. There is no room for this kind of shameful violence, vandalism, or hate in New Jersey or anywhere in America. We stand with Garden State Equality and the LGBTQ community," said Congressman Donald Norcross (D) "As soon as I heard about this disturbing act at the offices of Garden State Equality, I called Christian to make sure everyone was ok. There is no room in our society for this. Period." said Congressman Tom MacArthur (R) "It is a sad time in our country when Americans must fear their neighbors, we must work to respect each other more than ever before. No American citizen should be targeted with violence, the LGBT community here in New Jersey should be as safe as any. All victimization makes each of us less safe, let's work to be vigilant and protective of each other" said Assemblyman Tim Eustace (D) "Asbury Park has been a haven for the LGBT community for decades. That vandalism does not represent the town as a whole & strengthens our resolve to stand with our gay, lesbian, bi, and trans brothers and sister." said Asbury Park Councilwoman Amy Quinn.
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    Help us protect LGBT youth in New Jersey's schools

    A message from our Executive Director, Christian Fuscarino, about the Trump administration's guidance in schools: The Trump Administration has announced guidance that will negatively impact the lives of LGBT youth in schools. Like many of you, I cannot fathom why this is a priority for the administration, to attack those most vulnerable in our community, Trans youth. But, in this time of uncertainty, I can promise you that Garden State Equality will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that our young people have a safe place to learn and grow into confident and educated adults. Here is what you need to know: Every day we fight hard for New Jersey's youth. We have been providing professional development trainings for teachers and staff and we have a great policy on transgender students that dozen of New Jersey schools have adopted. In response to Trump's guidelines, we will increase our efforts to provide appropriate policy consultation to administrators. This is key to keeping our students safe. Trans youth still have rights under Title IX. And you better believe we will advocate for transgender youth and their families in situations where they have faced discrimination in school. Here is what needs to happen in New Jersey immediately: We are done being bullied by the Christie administration. Now more than ever we need the NJ Department of Education to step up and issue statewide guidance on working with transgender students. Well over a year ago, Garden State Equality drafted the guidance for the state to adopt, we met numerous times with representatives of the NJ Department of Education to explain the importance of adopting the guidance, and they have refused to act. Connecticut and New York, along with nine other states and the District of Columbia have already issued guidance protecting transgender students. It is this type of inaction that recently rated New Jersey a "medium equality state" by the Movement Advancement Project. We are dedicated to this work, but I need your help now more than ever. Today we are launching the "Safe Schools Advocacy Club", where members like you can join to help us fight for our youth. As a member, you will be supporting our certified staff to work in schools to get the proper policies passed to protect our youth from the actions our Federal Government is taking to strip the rights of our young people. Become a member of our Safe Schools Advocacy Club right now. I need you. Our youth need you. Thank you for letting me be forward with you. There has never been a more important time. In solidarity, Christian Fuscarino
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    First full LGBT health clinic in New Jersey!

    Today we take an important step forward as a community and a state, with the opening of the first full service LGBT health clinic. Robert Wood Johnson’s PROUD Family Health Clinic will serve "LGBTQIA" individuals and families, providing access to the services we need in our home state. RWJ recognizes that LGBT individuals have unique medical needs, and they are committed to providing for those needs in a safe and supportive environment. Prior to opening the PROUD Family Health Clinic, RWJ established a partnership with Garden State Equality to ensure that staff receive ongoing training in both cultural and clinical competencies. 1,100 employees have been trained so far!
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    Sad day for American public education...

    Everyday, Garden State Equality fights for the rights of New Jersey's most vulnerable students, working with families, educators, students, and school administrators to make our schools safer for LGBT youth. As the child of two public school teachers, a former educator, a historian, and a safe schools advocate, I know that an informed citizenry is the bedrock of democracy, and that quality public education is essential not only to our children's futures, but to the future of our country. There is no other way to put this: today is a sad day for American public education, and a sad day for our nation's children. Today, all but two Republican senators voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as Secretary of Education. In so doing they placed our public schools under the charge of an avowed enemy of public education.
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