We envision a Maryland where people across the spectrum of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer identities are free to live authentically, with safety and dignity, in all communities throughout our state.
Many LGBTQ Marylanders continue to experience discrimination in all aspects of their lives. FreeState Justice is a social justice organization that works statewide to improve the lives of LGBTQ Marylanders and their families through legal services, policy advocacy, outreach, education, and coalition building. Our work brings to the forefront the experiences of those of us at greater risk for discrimination, such as youth, communities of color, individuals with low-incomes, and transgender and gender non-conforming people.
FreeState Justice is the only statewide LGBTQ advocacy organization in the country that combines direct legal services and policy advocacy to serve the needs of LGBTQ communities. We unite a long history of policy advocacy with our deep expertise in legal services to ensure that policy and practice align regarding equal access to rights and benefits for LGBTQ people in Maryland. Maryland has an estimated 50,000-80,000 low-income LGBTQ residents, and hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ people across the income spectrum. All data indicates that LGBTQ people are much more likely to live in poverty and experience unique barriers to achieving economic stability and accessing equal and affirming healthcare. FreeState works to eliminate those barriers through legal services and policy advocacy. Without FreeState’s services, our clients would have no redress for discrimination, leading to higher rates of unemployment, homelessness, incarceration, negative health outcomes, and suicide.
FreeState Justice was formed when FreeState Legal Project and Equality Maryland merged in the spring of 2016; the new name (an earlier name of Equality Maryland) was announced at an event in Baltimore on June 30, 2016.
FreeState has been expanding the ways in which it promotes justice for the low-income LGBT community Maryland. FreeState (1) provides direct legal services to low-income LGBT clients through its in-house counsel and pro bono attorney network; (2) works towards systemic law and policy changes through governmental advocacy; (3) conducts outreach activities designed to promote self-advocacy within the LGBT community, particularly among LGBT teens; and (4) provides educational training to Maryland lawyers and judges about LGBT legal needs.