Campaign for LGBTQIA+ Equity

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 discussions with our 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 a pandemic. COVID-19 has highlighted the unmet needs of those most vulnerable in our community to access essential resources and services. 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.

If we can raise these funds, FreeState Justice will be able to:

  • Build out internal capacity for systemic policy advocacy, including expanding our youth and education programming, LGBTQIA+ access to healthcare and public accommodations, and criminal justice reform.
    • During the 2020 legislative session, FreeState Justice testified or submitted testimony on more than a dozen bills affecting the LGBTQIA+ community, including bills that prohibited discrimination in access to healthcare and health insurance and repealed Maryland’s sodomy law.
  • Expand our public education and outreach programs, including extending our know-your-rights training and launch a civic engagement program to build advocacy skills and knowledge in our community.
    • In the last year, FreeState Justice conducted over 25 trainings and clinics attended by over 13,000. We also strengthened our partnership framework to build comprehensive and collaborative efforts across the state to better serve our community.
  • Continue to develop our gender and racial equity work to launch a formal gender and racial justice program.
    • As an organization, we are committed to always learning and improving our work in gender and racial equity. Through training, assessment, and evaluation, we will strengthen gender and equity competencies internally as a team in our work and externally in our programming.
  • Sustain our critical legal services work through our Maryland LGBTQIA+ Legal Defense Fund to support our growing team.
    • In the last year, FreeState Justice and its panel of pro bono attorneys have helped over 100 transgender Marylanders change their names and gender markers and obtain affirming identity documents, as well as dozens of other LGBTQIA+ Marylanders on legal matters relating to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Thank you so much for helping us get to where we are. We hope you will consider giving $500, $250, $100, $50, or any amount to reach our goal. We will continue to promote safety and inclusion for Maryland’s LGBTQIA+ community. Together, we will advance the Campaign for LGBTQIA+ Equity.

With gratitude,

FreeState Justice

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