Equality Maryland and FreeState Legal Announce Series of Statewide Listening Sessions

Engaging LGBTQ Marylanders



Press Contact:     Saida Agostini

Email:                    sagostini@FreeStateLegal.org

Phone:                  410-625-5428 x14


Equality Maryland and FreeState Legal Announce Series of Statewide Listening Sessions


Baltimore, MD – February 4, 2016 – Following an announcement last month that Maryland’s statewide LGBTQ policy and legal advocacy organizations are merging to form a comprehensive, statewide political and legal advocacy organization on behalf of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) communities in Maryland, FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland announced today that they will host a series of listening sessions across the state of Maryland. These listening sessions will be an opportunity for community members to engage directly with organizational leaders around the issues that matter most to them, and help FreeState Legal/Equality Maryland shape its vision.


The organization today announces the first round of listening sessions to take place in Columbia, Salisbury, Chestertown, and Frederick, with future listening sessions being organized in Baltimore, Westminster, Montgomery County, and Prince George’s County. These listening sessions are designed  to solicit feedback from the LGBTQ community on what issues should be prioritized by the combined organization, both in terms of substantive legal and policy issues, as well as which populations with intersecting identities most need barriers removed with the assistance of the newly formed organization.


As part of this merger, FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland are re-envisioning LGBTQ advocacy in Maryland, and want to hear from constituents about what their mission, vision, priorities, and name should be.  FreeState Legal and Equality Maryland’s Executive Director, Patrick Paschall shared, “these listening sessions are a way for us to make sure that our organization’s work truly captures the voices of LGBTQ Marylanders. The information gathered from these conversations will be critical in determining the direction of FreeState Legal/Equality Maryland in the years to come.”


The organization will use information learned in the listening sessions to influence a comprehensive strategic planning process, including rewriting the organization’s mission, vision, name, and brand. The new organizational identity will be unveiled at a celebration event that will take place this summer.


These listening sessions will be co-hosted with regional LGBTQ organizations including The Frederick Center, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, The Lower Shore LGBTQ Coalition, and PFLAG Chestertown.


The following events have been scheduled:


2.9.16                    Owen Brown Interfaith Center                  7:30 PM to 9 PM

7246 Cradlerock Way, Columbia


2.23.16                  Higher Education Center, Room 115         6 PM to 8 PM

Chesapeake College

1000 College Circle, Wyes Mill


3.8.16                    Community Foundation                                  6 PM to 8 PM

1324 Belmont Ave #401, Salisbury


3.15.16                  Unitarian Universalist Church                       6 PM to 8 PM

4880 Elmer Derr Rd, Frederick


More sessions will be announced in the coming weeks at www.freestatelegal.org.




FreeState Legal is a non-profit organization that serves the low-income lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) community in Maryland through direct legal services, impact litigation, policy advocacy, and outreach and training activities. Since 2008, FreeState Legal has provided free legal services to hundreds of low-income LGBTQ people in a variety of areas, such as housing, employment, public accommodations, complex family matters, and others. Through its legal and advocacy work, FreeState Legal has expanded access to health care for transgender Marylanders and ensured that state prisons treat transgender prisoners humanely.


Equality Maryland is Maryland’s largest LGBTQ civil rights and political advocacy organization, with thousands of members statewide. It lobbies in Annapolis and across the state to create equal protection under the law for LGBTQ Marylanders and their families, and works to eliminate prejudice and discrimination against LGBTQ Marylanders through public education, outreach, training and organizing. Since 1990, Equality Maryland has led numerous legislative and ballot campaigns to secure legal protections for the LGBTQ community in Maryland, including defending marriage equality at the ballot and passing laws to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.