The Appellate Division of the NJ Superior Court has issued a groundbreaking decision on Friday in favor of gay and lesbian couples and their children. The Court agreed with arguments made by Garden State Equality in the case, holding in a published decision that “our laws, both legislatively and through judicial decisions, now recognize and protect the rights of LGBTQ people to equal dignity and treatment under law.” Garden State Equality argued as a friend of the court, seeking full equality for same-sex couples and their families.
The case dealt with the sad circumstance of the death of young girl in early 2009 who was hit by a truck while walking to see “Disney on Ice” in Trenton with her mothers, a lesbian couple who since that time have married. Marriage equality only became legal in New Jersey in 2013 as a result of the landmark lawsuit, Garden State Equality v. Dow.
New Jersey law allows a person to bring a lawsuit against someone who causes the death or serious physical injury of a close relative if they witness it, as happened here. The trial judge ruled that the non-biological mother, who was called “mom” by, and was holding the hand of the girl when she died, was merely a “lover” of the biological mother and, therefore, not a relative of the girl.
Garden State Equality pushed back to argue that same-sex couples and their children are, indeed, families, regardless of whether or not they have a biological connection. We asked the court for dignity and equality for this and every same-sex couple and their children, and the court granted it, saying “our fellow citizens now unequivocally reject this shameful, morally untenable bigotry.”
We are grateful to our legal counsel in this matter, Jennifer Hamilton, Esq., as well as the NJ State Bar Association, which has argued forcefully for our community’s equality for many years. Thomas H. Prol, Esq., the first openly gay president of the state bar and a Garden State Equality executive board member, appeared and argued for equality. We thank the couple’s attorney, Robin Kay Lord, Esq., for her incredible persistence and advocacy for this couple and their rights.
PSE&G FUNDS NEW POSITION TO FOCUS SAFE SCHOOL EFFORTS IN NORTH JERSEY
ASBURY PARK, NJ - Garden State Equality (GSE) will be bringing on their newest team member, Dr. Tyree Oredein, as the Safe Schools Coordinator for North Jersey. The program is being funded by a grant awarded to GSE by PSE&G.
With demand for GSE’s Teach and Affirm Program increasing, the hiring of their second Safe Schools Coordinator will enable the organization to visit even more schools and develop more outreach materials and curricular resources in the upcoming school year.
“We are confident that having two Safe Schools Coordinators will also enhance our ability to host more special activities, such as our youth caucus program, new Library Series, our Educators for Equality program, and education conferences that extend our reach,” said Denise Rodriguez, Garden State Equality Director of Development. “We know that youth are influenced by their peers, and creating additional projects and activities that are youth-directed will bolster our message of inclusion and effectuate even greater positive changes in the communities we serve across New Jersey.”
In October of 2017, GSE hired a Safe Schools Coordinator, Ashley Chiappano, who enhanced their anti-bullying program, Teach and Affirm, and expanded their reach to more schools and youth-based organizations across New Jersey. Since bringing on Chiappano less than a year ago, their Safe Schools Program has provided over 70 workshops, trainings, and information sessions that have reached hundreds of youth, parents, community leaders, and educators across the State.
Despite a substantial amount of progress, GSE still looks to expand their work further in NJ schools. Moving forward, the organization anticipates making additional developments in the area of their anti-bullying programming, along with continued outreach to schools. Having a second Safe Schools Coordinator designated to North Jersey provides GSE a broader reach to school districts and other youth-based organizations.
Dr. Oredein has an extensive background in creating and ensuring safe spaces for sexual minority youth in academic, professional, social service, and community settings. Since 2005, she has delivered hundreds of Professional Development training workshops to more than 5,000 administrators, educators, social service & medical providers, police officers, correction officers, graduate and undergraduate students, high school students, peer educators, and community members.
Additionally, Dr. Oredein has facilitated numerous workshops on HIV/AIDS, PrEP (Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis), STIs, sexuality, healthy relationships, media and health literacy, and other pertinent topics affecting youth. She has visited K through 12 settings to deliver presentations on anti-bullying and acceptance in an effort to create safer spaces in schools and has been a fixture at various LGBTQIA+ youth forums and summits across New Jersey. She also sits on the Board of Directors for Say Ah!, a non-profit agency dedicated to increasing health literacy, and she is an adjunct professor at Montclair State University in the Department of Public Health.
Dr. Oredein, who received her Doctorate of Public Health (Dr.P.H.) from Rutgers University, her Masters of Public Health (M.P.H) from Hunter College, and a Bachelor’s Degree from Wellesley College, began her work as the GSE Safe Schools Coordinator for North Jersey on Wednesday, August 15, 2018.
This past Tuesday, Governor Phil Murphy and First Lady, Tammy Murphy, hosted a Pride Reception at the Governor’s mansion in Princeton.
The event was filled with LGBTQ advocates and allies, gathering together to commemorate an astounding Pride Season and a multitude of progressive accomplishments that have taken place in the recent months.
Included in these accomplishments are the passing of the Babs Siperstein Law, the Death Certificate Bill, and the Transgender Task Force.
Among the guests were the evening’s Champions of Equality Award recipients, Babs Siperstein, Tim Eustace, and Rebecca Williams. These advocates were nominated for this award because of their work to increase LGBTQ visibility in our state.
Garden State Equality would like to extend our most sincere gratitude to Governor Murphy and the first lady for hosting such a wonderful and important event. New Jersey is proud to have a governor who celebrates the LGBTQ community and believes in true equality.
Garden State Equality stands in solidarity with all immigrants and their families, and against the Trump administration’s action of tearing children from their parents and prosecuting asylum seekers. The LGBT movement has long held that families belong together, and we know all too well that the demonization of one group of marginalized people leads quickly to the demonization of all. Dehumanizing immigrants as “animals” and speaking of them as “infesting our country” reminds us of the demonization of LGBT people as a “contagion”, as vectors for disease, etc.
While Garden State Equality stands with all immigrants regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity/expression, we also know that many immigrants and asylum seekers are also LGBT people, and seek asylum on that very basis. This administration’s blanket policy denying asylum to victims of domestic and gang violence leaves LGBT asylum seekers at great risk. The administration should get no credit for an executive order that does not even fix a problem of the administration’s own making. At Garden State Equality we really do care.
Governor Murphy signed the signature "Birth Certificate Bill," now known as the "Babs Siperstein Law." After being vetoed by Governor Christie two times. This has been years in the making!
Garden State Equality's Director of Programs Aaron Potenza, who worked behind the scenes to draft the bill, is thrilled. "New Jersey has finally removed the outdated, invasive, and overly burdensome proof of surgery requirement. Furthermore, we have created a path for people who identify outside the binary to access accurate documents. I am proud to have worked with the National Center for Transgender Equality, with activists like Babs Siperstein, and with our allies in the legislature to modernize the process for changing gender markers on New Jersey birth certificates."
This is a tremendous step forward for transgender New Jerseyans that will allow them to access identity documents that match their lived experiences. The signing of this bill means New Jersey will become a national leader by joining 16 states that allow transgender residents to change their gender marker without proof of surgery. New Jersey will become the fourth state to offer a third gender option on birth certificates, following California, Oregon, and Washington.
"I am immensely proud of Governor Murphy for not only standing with our community, but also seeing that equality reaches everyone in New Jersey. Transgender people have long stood in solidarity with LGB people and here at Garden State Equality we make sure nobody is left behind", said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality.
Governor Murphy also signed bills allowing gender identity to be reflected on death certificates and establishing a Transgender Task Force. The Task Force will advance equality in New Jersey by allowing government officials, experts in law, policy, and medicine, and community leaders and advocates to come together to study and address issues that impact transgender people throughout our society.
Garden State Equality would like to thank sponsors Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora, Assemblyman Andrew Zwicker, Assemblyman Nicholas Chiaravalloti, Senator Joe Vitale, and Senator Loretta Weinberg.
Equality license plates in New Jersey! Provide feedback on the design for Garden State Equality's new plates!Continue reading
Garden State Equality will soon join other organizations and causes on the roads of New Jersey!
Recently, thanks to our allies in the New Jersey legislature, Garden State Equality was approved to have a specialty plate through the Motor Vehicle Commission. Similar to other charities in this program, proceeds from these plates will benefit our education work.
But, before you choose to have our logo don your car's license plate, we are seeking feedback on design!
Your opinion is critical in helping us decide what to submit to the MVC for approval.
Thank you for being a member of Garden State Equality and helping us with this process!
ASBURY PARK - Garden State Equality (GSE), New Jersey’s largest LGBT advocacy and education organization, today announced its endorsements for the May non-partisan municipal elections taking place in New Jersey.
The candidates receiving endorsements from GSE are:
Czezre Adams for Newark City Council;
Ras Baraka for Mayor of Newark;
Reed Gusciora for Mayor of Trenton;
Alexandra Harwin for Ridgewood Village Council;
Elvin Montero for Trenton City Council; and
Jason O'Donnell for Mayor of Bayonne.
Each of these candidates has a clear and defined history of working with and supporting issues of importance to the LGBT community. Whether it be marriage equality, anti-bullying laws, flying the pride flag, or engaging in proactive discussions on how to best achieve true equality and fairness for the LGBT community, these individuals have shown they are committed to the cause of LGBT rights.
“We carefully selected the candidates that we feel will uphold the goals and ideals we fight for every day,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “We are proud to support them and look forward to working with them toward a more equal New Jersey.”
Various municipalities across the state of New Jersey will hold their non-partisan elections on May 8.
ABOUT GARDEN STATE EQUALITY
GSE 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.
Garden State Equality’s Teach and Affirm Program held its 1st Annual Art Contest for students in 6th-8th grades. Now we need your vote! We selected the top 10 from over 120 incredible submissions! Thank you to all who participated, we were very impressed by all the designs.
1st place winners:
Artwork will be printed on a “Knockout Bullying” boxing glove and sold at Beachbox in Asbury Park and on GSE’s website
An article in our local press discussing the artist and school’s work
Artwork will be displayed at GSE offices & BeachBox in Asbury Park
$100 worth of Toys R Us art supplies
2nd place winners:
Artwork will be displayed at GSE and BeachBox in Asbury Park.
$50 worth of Toys R Us art supplies
3rd place winners:
Artwork will be displayed at GSE and BeachBox in Asbury Park.
$25 worth of Toys R Us art supplies
“Knockout Bullying” Awards Event will be held on Saturday June 16th from 11:00 a.m.- 1:00 p.m at BeachBox: 1317 Memorial Drive, Asbury Park, NJ 07712. Winners, their families, and school representatives/host teachers will be invited to attend the event hosted by GSE and BeachBox! Everyone in attendance will receive brunch, winners will receive their prizes and participate an interactive activity! Wear something comfortable!
To vote for your favorite submission, CLICK HERE
Bianca Mayes began working as our Health and Wellness Coordinator last fall, and she jumped right into developing a program to better address the unique needs of LGBT older adults. Since rolling out the program in January, Bianca has trained more than 100 healthcare professionals throughout New Jersey!
With over 100,000 LGBT New Jerseyans over the age of 55, there is a lot of work to be done, but we are making progress.
Over the next few weeks, Bianca will continue to offer our Bronze, Silver, and Gold level Pledge & Protect trainings to providers throughout our state. And, this summer we plan to host 10 focus groups serving all 21 counties to help produce a statewide needs assessment.
There are a lot of ways to get involved with this work, below are some upcoming events:
LGBT Senior Housing and Care Expo in partnership with Green Hill Retirement Community:
Focus groups in partnership with Monmouth University:
GSE’s Pledge & Protect program is for all healthcare providers including:nurse practitioners, doctors, therapists, dentists, and other direct-service providers. If you are a healthcare or housing professional and are interested in learning more about our programs, please check out the attached flyer on our Pledge and Protect program, and reach out to us at: http://www.gardenstateequality.org/pledge
This progress wouldn't be possible without the support of our dedicated members and community partners.
Health and Wellness Coordinator
Garden State Equality
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