The policy advocacy of Equality Maryland and the legal services of FreeState Legal will merge soon to form a comprehensive organization to serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Marylanders, the organizations announced earlier this week.
Equality Maryland “has lead the fight for LGBTQ equality in the state legislature,” according to a news release from the organization, while FreeState Legal’s team of attorneys provides direct legal services.
“While Maryland’s LGBTQ community has enjoyed many recent successes like the passage of a transgender-inclusive nondiscrimination law and achieving marriage equality, we know that the struggle for equality is far from over, particularly for LGBTQ people of color and those who are low-income,” said Jessica P. Weber, board president of FreeState Legal.
A series of listening sessions will begin throughout the state so that the two groups can hear from the community what issues should be prioritized, as well as what the new name should be of the newly formed organization.
“As a result of these listening sessions, our organizations will create a strategic plan, a new mission, a vision for the future of LGBTQ advocacy in Maryland, and a new name, all of which will be unveiled at a celebration event we will host in June,” said Patrick A. Paschall, executive director of FreeState Legal, in a prepared statement.
Paschall will lead the combined organization, and no staff changes are expected in the immediate future.
“As a merged organization, we’ll be able to better serve the community, and we’ll establish a model for other state-based LGBTQ organizations to follow as the next phase of LGBTQ advocacy at the state level,” he said.