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Garden State Equality
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    Chris Donnelly To Serve As New GSE Action Fund Chair

    Asbury Park - Luanne Peterpaul, one of the state’s champions for LGBT rights and equality, is moving on from her position as Chair of Garden State Equality’s (GSE) Action Fund. Peterpaul has served as a board member and chair for 12 years. Luanne has proven to be a fundamental partner of Garden State Equality. In her 12 year run, she has been a fearless leader, a compassionate advocate, and a dedicated supporter, having made immeasurable contributions to several of the organization’s efforts.

    “Garden State Equality has evolved from a single mission organization - Marriage Equality - an important one at that - to an organization that makes an impact on the lives of the LGBT community and its allies every single day,” Said Peterpaul. “I am confident that with GSE’s executive director, staff and board members, GSE will continue the great work being accomplished. We all must be mindful that we can't continue to make strides forward and justice will not be served until, as Benjamin Franklin said, ‘those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.’”

    Peterpaul has played an influential role in most, if not all, of the over 250 laws and local ordinances passed with the guidance of Garden State Equality. She was one of the pioneers in the fight for equality, while also advocating for greater emphasis on educating our youth on diversity, equality and respect for their peers.

    One of her most notable accomplishments is co-authoring the Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights, which sailed through both the State Assembly and Senate, and was signed into law by Governor Christie in January 2011. She was also the recipient of last year’s Lifetime Achievement Award from the LGBT Rights Section of the New Jersey State Bar Association.

    “I couldn’t be more grateful for the time and dedication that Luanne has put into this organization,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “She has taught and will continue to teach me so many valuable lessons that I apply to my work every day. She will be missed on our Board, but I know she will never stop being a loyal partner of Garden State Equality.”

    Outside of Garden State Equality, Peterpaul is a partner and principal at Peterpaul Law, LLP located in Asbury Park, New Jersey. Her practice involves the handling of complex litigation including employment law, business litigation and school law issues. She is admitted to practice before the state and federal courts of New Jersey, and the Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit. Chris Donnelly, who currently sits on Garden State Equality’s Action Fund Executive

    Committee, will step into Peterpaul’s position as Chair. Donnelly offers a background in LGBT advocacy, having served as the communications director for New Jersey United For Marriage, a grassroots campaign to bring marriage equality to New Jersey.

    “It will not be easy following the incredible legacy Luanne is leaving behind,” said Donnelly. “She has been a mentor to me, but more importantly, a great friend. I look forward to continuing the great work she, Christian, and Garden State Equality have performed over the years. Whether it is combating rampant homelessness and addiction among LGBT youth, ensuring greater
    understanding of our LGBT brothers and sisters, or doing away with outdated laws that ingrain bias, there are still battles to be won in the fight for true LGBT equality in our state and in our Nation.”

    Donnelly is currently a Principal for Kivvit, an organization that focuses on public affairs and communications strategies for their clients. Prior to joining Kivvit, Donnelly served as Press Secretary to State Senate President Steve Sweeney. He has also worked in the administrations of three New Jersey governors and served as communications director for the 2010 reelection campaign of Congressman Rush Holt.


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  • Garden State Equality and ACLU-NJ to Students: We have your backs

    Two of NJ’s leading rights organizations want NJ young people to know they’re here to help

    In the wake of widespread student activism following the massacre in Parkland, Florida, Garden State Equality and the ACLU of New Jersey have come together to send a message to students: we have your back and we’re here for you.

    "The tide has finally turned and the voices of students are carrying the waves of justice throughout our nation," Said Garden State Equality Executive Director Christian Fuscarino. "I want every young person to know that all throughout history, change has come from those who are brave enough to stand tall regardless of those telling them to stand down. In New Jersey, my wish is that every student feels confident knowing that ACLU of New Jersey and Garden State Equality, two of New Jersey’s largest social justice organizations, have your back. As leaders of social movements, we are coming together to provide resources that highlight your rights as students."

    The ACLU-NJ and GSE reiterate the students holding demonstrations at school, including walkouts, have rights. The ACLU-NJ offers basic guidelines to students online, and a few key points in brief:

    • Even for activities like walkouts that fall outside the boundaries of school rules, students can’t be punished extra harshly or disproportionately.
    • Schools can’t block the doors to stop a walkout.
    • Schools can’t stop kids from talking about political topics for being too controversial.

    On Thursday, March 8, at 8 p.m., the ACLU is holding a nationwide webinar for students to understand their speech rights.

    “It’s heartening and important for young New Jerseyans to make their voices heard. It’s not always easy, and it’s not always without consequence, but we hope to serve as a resource on what schools can do, what they can’t do, and what they should do,” said ACLU-NJ Deputy Legal Director Jeanne LoCicero. “You are the ones who will inherit the duty of keeping liberty strong for the next generations, and we hope school administrators will embrace the spirit of civic engagement.”

    Your rights in schools:

    Students should contact Garden State Equality at or (973)509-5428 or the ACLU of New Jersey through their intake form if their rights are endangered.

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    Murphy Appoints LGBT Person to Cabinet!

    SUE FULTON BECOMES FIRST HIGH LEVEL GOVERNMENT APPOINTMENT OF AN LGBT PERSON BY THE MURPHY ADMINISTRATION NEWARK - The Murphy administration has nominated Brenda S. “Sue” Fulton to serve as the new Commissioner of the Motor Vehicle Commission. Fulton is currently the Executive Director of Women in the Service Change Initiative.  If confirmed, this would make her the first high level government appointment of an LGBT person since Governor Murphy’s inauguration.Fulton was member of the first class at West Point to admit women in 1980, and she served in the army until she was honorably discharged at the rank of Captain.  Thereafter, she founded multiple organizations that advocate for LGBT military members. In July 2011, she was appointed by President Obama as the first openly gay member of the West Point Board of Visitors and became the first female USMA graduate to chair the Board in 2015.Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBT organization, applauds Governor Murphy’s decision to place Fulton in this prominent position. The organization has been working with the Murphy administration in an effort to assign appropriate representatives of LGBT-related issues. “We endorsed Phil Murphy during his campaign because we were confident he would chose competent and qualified leaders for New Jersey. He has shown us today that our belief in him was well-founded,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “We are optimistic that this is just the beginning of a long line of appointments and decisions made by Governor Murphy that will positively impact and be reflective of the LGBT community.”The MVC is composed of eight members, four of whom are appointed by the Governor. Three cabinet members also serve on the MVC on an ex-officio basis: the New Jersey Attorney General, the State Treasurer, and the Commissioner of the New Jersey Department of Transportation. The eighth position is reserved for the Chief Administrator, a non-voting member, who also serves as the Chair of the MVC. ## Press Contact:Colin DeLuccaCommunications
  • Featured petition

    URGENT: Department of Education won't protect trans students. Add your name to our letter:

    500 signatures

    Dear Secretary DeVos:

    We recently learned that a spokesperson from the U.S. Department of Education has gone on record to confirm the Department, under Donald Trump and your leadership, won’t investigate or take action on any claims by transgender students involving access to restrooms and other sex-segregated spaces.

    This is a galling and discriminatory statement from an agency charged with protecting and educating our nation’s youth. It is also deeply misinformed, and on perilous legal footing.

    As you know, the Office of Civil Rights, which investigates cases for the Department of Education, is charged with enforcing and interpreting Title IX consistent with case law and the adjudications of other Federal agencies. Going back several decades, the courts, and multiple federal agencies, have interpreted “sex” discrimination to include “sex stereotyping” and thus discrimination on the basis of gender identity.

    Three years ago, Garden State Equality wrote to the Office of Civil Rights for clarification on how they interpret Title IX as it relates to transgender students. The response was clear: Title IX’s prohibition of sex discrimination “encompasses discrimination based on gender identity, including discrimination because a student is transgender.”

    As Secretary of Department of Education it is your duty to protect ALL of our Nation's children. Please follow the more than 25 years of case law so these vulnerable young people and all our youth have equal educational opportunity.




    Will you sign?

  • Featured post

    Why New Jersey needs a birth certificate bill that works for everyone

    January 16, 2018 Dear New Jersey Legislators, On behalf of Garden State Equality, New Jersey’s largest LGBT advocacy organization; the National Center for Transgender Equality, the nation’s leading social justice advocacy organization for transgender people; and the American Civil Liberties Union of New Jersey, the state’s largest defender of individual rights and civil liberties, we write to urge you to support legislation that will allow transgender residents to change the gender marker on their birth certificates to accurately reflect their identities and lived experiences.
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    Asbury Park – LGBTQ organizations and allies across New Jersey expressed outrage today over President Trump’s firing off the remaining members of the HIV/AIDS advisory council. The members were fired without warning and – and in a move indicative of the cowardice of this president - by way of letters sent through FedEx.

    The ten remaining members of the council received their termination letters on Wednesday, December 27, with no indication of when the Trump administration might begin to make new appointments.

    “This mass firing is yet another example of the Trump Administration’s efforts to undermine LGBT related issues,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “The advisory council was assembled with professionals and persons living with HIV/AIDS that fought for the betterment of those affected by the virus. Given the track record of the Trump administration, we are fearful Trump’s picks to replace these appointees will be wildly unqualified for the roles, if they are even replaced at all.”

    While it is not uncommon to see changes in federal advisory committees, historically presidential administrations had allowed members to serve full terms before appointing replacements. This was often done in an effort to make transition periods as seamless as possible and help keep members focused on committee objectives.

    “President Trump’s firing without explanation of the remainder of the HIV/AIDS Council is yet another slap in the face to our LGBTQ family and friends,” said New Jersey Governor Elect  Phil Murphy. “Real leadership means governing with inclusivity, respect, and dignity.”

    Since the council was founded in 1995, its responsibilities centered around advising the White House on HIV/AIDS policies. Members of the council, known by the acronym PACHA, are unpaid and offer recommendations on the National HIV/AIDS Strategy, a five-year plan responding to the epidemic.

    “Hyacinth AIDS Foundation is outraged by President Trump’s unilateral decision to dismiss all members of the Presidential Advisory Council on HIV/AIDS,” said Kathy Ahearn-O’Brien, the Executive Director Hyacinth AIDS Foundation. “With tremendous strides in treatment and prevention, we are seeing great strides in reducing the numbers of new infections. Dismantling this council now is simply inappropriate. With 1.2 million Americans still living with the virus, we need a unified front from all departments within the U.S. government if we truly want to end this epidemic.”

    The firings followed numerous prior resignations from members of the HIV/AIDS advisory council who felt the Trump administration was taking steps to hinder progress in the fight against the disease. These departures were taking place as early as June of 2017.

    “As the leading and largest LGBTQ Center in New Jersey, we are appalled and angered at Trump's decision to abruptly dismiss the remaining members of the HIV/AIDS Council,” said Michael Billy from the Hudson Pride Connections Center. “The council is an integral part of policies and funding in the national fight to end this epidemic. This latest attack from The White House is another hostile move in silencing, erasing and displacing LGBTQ people, people living with HIV and Black Americans who are affected most.”


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  • Word Ban at the CDC and How it will Affect Our Community

    Please read the statement below from our Health & Wellness Coordinator, Bianca Mayes:

    I’m writing to inform you about a recent Trump administration order that will ban certain words
    at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, such as “Transgender”. My name is Bianca
    Mayes and I am the new Health & Wellness Coordinator at Garden State Equality.

    This recent order will ban America’s top public health agency from using seven terms in official
    reports and documents. These seven terms include: “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,”
    “transgender,” “fetus,” “evidence-based” and “science-based.” Censoring these terms will lead to
    further stigma and discrimination of sexual orientation, gender identity, and abortion rights.
    Additionally, this censorship will further exclude federal policies and the collection of
    government information of LGBT Americans.

    It’s important for you to know that Garden State Equality is committed to protecting the needs of
    the LGBT community. Last March, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)
    abandoned questions regarding sexual orientation and gender identity in two surveys specifically
    for older adults. Our commitment to the community has inspired us to partner with Green
    Hill: Senior Living and SAGE NJ to administer a statewide LGBT older adults needs
    assessment survey.

    This survey will give older adults the opportunity to identify their sexual orientations and/or
    gender identities as well as identify their needs for Housing, Continuation of Care, Safety,
    Healthcare, and Access to Care.

    Additionally, as the Trump Administration begins to erase our community from national
    surveys, we are committed to passing legislation in NJ mandating the collection of SOGI (sexual
    orientation/gender identity) data. We recently let you know about two bills that have passed the
    Assembly and Senate, requiring SOGI data collection in higher education and certain state
    agencies. In 2018 we will push for the collection of SOGI data on the Behavioral Risk Factor
    Surveillance System, the Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, and in the homeless youth
    Point-in- Time-Count Surveys.

    Finally, we recognize the significant need to identify LGBT clinically and culturally competent
    health care providers for LGBT people living in New Jersey and are aggressively developing our
    Map and Expand Project.
    Please feel free to reach out if you have any questions. We are here to help.


    Bianca Mayes
    Health & Wellness Coordinator
    Garden State Equality

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  • Vote for these LGBT-friendly candidates! Garden State Equality's 2017 Endorsements:

    Each election year Garden State Equality’s Action Fund strives to identify candidates that will help to create a more equal New Jersey. There are many factors that go into our decision.  This process is never easy but we are confident that if elected these individuals for State Senate and Assembly will ensure that New Jersey will be on the right track for equality and our arc of justice will bend more quickly.

    2017 Gubernatorial Race

    Ambassador Phil Murphy (D) 

    2017 NJ Senate General Candidates



    3 Stephen Sweeney (D)
    4 Fred Madden (D)
    5 Nilsa Cruz-Perez (D)
    6 James Beach (D)
    7 Troy Singleton (D)
    11 Vin Gopal (D)
    13 Declan O'Scanlon (R)
    14 Linda Greenstein (D)
    15 Shirley Turner (D)
    18 Patrick Diegnan, Jr. (D)
    19 Joseph Vitale (D)
    20 Joseph Cryan (D)
    22 Nicholas Scutari (D)
    27 Richard Codey (D)
    29 Teresa Ruiz (D)
    31 Sandra Cunningham (D)
    32 Nicholas Sacco (D)
    33 Brian Stack (D)
    34 Nia Gill (D)
    35 Nellie Pou (D)
    36 Paul Sarlo (D)
    37 Loretta Weinberg (D)
    38 Robert Gordon (D)


    2017 NJ General Assembly General Candidates



    3 John Burzichelli (D)
    3 Adam Taliaferro (D)
    4 Paul Moriarty (D)
    4 Gabriela Mosquera (D)
    5 Patricia Egan Jones (D)
    5 Arthur Barclay (D)
    6 Louis Greenwald (D)
    6 Pamela Lampitt (D)
    7 Carol Murphy (D)
    7 Herbert Conaway, Jr. (D)
    11 Eric Houghtaling (D)
    11 Joann Downey (D)
    13 Serena Dimassi (R)
    14 Wayne DeAngelo (D)
    14 Daniel Benson (D)
    15 Reed Gusciora (D)
    15 Elizabeth Maher Muoio (D)
    16 Andrew Zwicker (D)
    18 Nancy Pinkin (D)
    18 Robert Karabinchak (D)
    19 Yvonne Lopez (D)
    19 Craig Coughlin (D)
    20 Annette Quijano (D)
    20 Jamal Holley (D)
    22 Gerald Green (D)
    22 James J. Kennedy (D)
    27 John Mckeon (D)
    27 Mila Jasey (D)
    28 Cleopatra Tucker (D)
    28 Ralph Caputo (D)
    29 Shanique Speight (D)
    29 Eliana Pintor Marin (D)
    31 Nicholas Chiaravalloti (D)
    31 Angela McKnight (D)
    32 Vincent Prieto (D)
    32 Angelica Jimenez (D)
    33 Raj Mukherji (D)
    33 Anette Chaparro (D)
    34 Thomas Giblin (D)
    34 Sheila Oliver (D)
    35 Shavonda Sumter (D)
    35 Benjie Wimberly (D)
    36 Marlene Caride (D)
    36 Gary Schaer (D)
    37 Gordon Johnson (D)
    37 Valerie Vainieri (D)
    38 Timothy Eustace (D)
    38 Joseph Lagana (D)
    39 Holly Schepisi (R)


    Local Municipalities 



    Jersey City Steven Fulop for Mayor (D)
    Neptune City Pamela Renee for City Council (D)
    South River Ruell Calvin Brown for City Council (D)
    Atlantic City Don Guardian for Mayor (R)
    Red Bank Ed Zipprich for City Council (D)


    The Action Fund also believes that it has a responsibility to share with our members a list of LGBT self-disclosed candidates:


    Positing Running For


    Ruell Calvin Brown City Council South River
    Michael DeFusco Mayor Hoboken
    Mico Lucide General Assembly, Legislative District 2 NJ
    Pamela Renee City Council Neptune City
    Reed Gusciora General Assembly, Legislative District 15  
    Tim Eustace General Assembly, Legislative District 38  
    Marianna Pontoriero Council Brick
    Vincent Solomeno Hazlet Township Committee Hazlet
    Jake Hudnut Ward E Downtown Council Jersey City
    Gina Genovese Governor NJ
    Don Guardian Mayor of Atlantic City Atlantic City
    Christopher Hillmann City Council Hasbrouck Heights
    Ed zipprich Council Red bank
    Dean dafis Council Maplewood
    Dan ward Council Barnegat
    Vincent Solomeno Council Hazlet
    Beth Asaro Council Lambertville 
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  • Featured post


    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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  • Featured post

    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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