FreeState Justice is excited to publicly launch our Growth Campaign: the Campaign for LGBTQIA+ Equity – a $1.1 million fundraising campaign to expand our impact and make Maryland a national leader in advancing LGBTQIA+ rights!
While Maryland often prides itself on being an affirming state, LGBTQIA+ people continue to face discrimination, violence, and barriers to general well-being and prosperity. The fight for lived equality and full equity remains an ongoing movement, especially for those who are transgender and nonbinary, Black, Indigenous, and other people of color, people with low incomes, youth, and elders. Our campaign will address obstacles for the most vulnerable in our community.
The Campaign for LGBTQIA+ Equity will equip FreeState with the resources to strengthen our legal services, public education, and policy advocacy programs, as well as the operational infrastructure to support a larger team. This growth campaign began internally in January 2020 through collaboration with partners to secure essential anchor gifts from funders and donors to build momentum for these efforts. Thanks to our supporters, we have raised over $750,000 and are almost 70% to goal! We hope you will consider giving $500, $250, $100, $50, or any amount to reach our goal.
Over the past three years, FreeState Justice has grown dramatically to meet the needs of Maryland’s LGBTQIA+ community. We have represented more than 500 LGBTQIA+ Marylanders facing discrimination, successfully advocated for the passage of 13 pro-LGBTQIA+ bills in the Maryland General Assembly, and facilitated essential training and coalitions to make Maryland a more safe and inclusive state for our community. Our team has also grown from a team of three to ten and we support a growing pro bono panel of more than 250 volunteer attorneys. We are developing a flatter, non-hierarchical leadership philosophy to empower a team of directors and involve the larger community in implementing FreeState’s vision, strategy, advocacy, and services. Our collective efforts contributed to Maryland’s ranking by the Human Rights Campaign as a state that is “Working Toward Innovative Equality” in their 2019 State Equality Index Report, their highest ranking, for the first time in the index’s history.
We are in a time where inequities, bias, and discrimination are laid bare in the face of racial and transphobic violence amidst pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted the unmet needs of those most vulnerable in our community to access essential resources and services. Additionally, while the Supreme Court has ruled that LGBTQIA+ people are protected under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (read more about the decision here), there are still critical gaps in non-discrimination laws for LGBTQIA+ people. In fact, the federal Department of Health and Human Services is moving forward efforts to rescind transgender healthcare protections under Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act (read more about these efforts here).
We need to continue fighting for equity in the criminal justice system, healthcare, education, employment, housing, and elsewhere, to advance lived equality for all of our community. Until every person – regardless of income, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, age, or geography – has access to equity and justice, our work is not over. Together, we will advance the Campaign for LGBTQIA+ Equity. Read more about our priorities and please consider giving $500, $250, $100, $50, or any amount to reach our goal to our Campaign here!