Two gay rights groups are organizing in Shreveport, La.: the North Louisiana Concerned Citizens for Equality and the Gay Straight Alliance.
Casey Simpson, an attorney, helped organize NLCCE and said he hopes the group can help change local attitudes. He also wants the group, which first met November 20, to be a resource for those interested in issues that affect gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender people. LSU-Shreveport senior Kim Lewis founded the GSA. She also joined NLCCE. Her student group held its first meeting November 29.
GSA's goals include organizing gay-friendly events on campus, serving as a resource for gay students, and mounting an AIDS awareness campaign within local high schools. Simpson said he and others decided there was a need for an organization like NLCCE when Louisiana voters on September 18 approved a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.
The amendment was struck down by a state district court judge October 5 because it contained more than one purpose--banning marriages as well as civil unions; that ruling is under review by the Louisiana supreme court. "What we're interested in is seeking to create, or at least do our part in contributing to, a peaceful and just society," said Simpson.
One of NLCCE's long-term goals is persuading more people to see its efforts as part of a larger debate about civil rights, Simpson said. Lewis said she got the idea for establishing the GSA during this year's election. As political campaigns heated up, she noticed more students becoming interested in voting and political causes. About 30 people attended NLCCE's December 16 meeting, its third. Twelve people attended GSA's initial gathering, which took place a week before finals, at LSUS. Simpson and Lewis anticipate that interest in their organizations will increase.