ELIZABETH, NJ - Union County has launched the new Office of LGBTQ Services, the first County government office of its kind in the State of New Jersey.

Operating under the new Division of Outreach and Advocacy in the Department of Human Services, Union County's Office of LGBTQ Services will provide a platform for leadership and collaboration to support equality, and serve as a catalyst for advocacy, awareness and action on current and emerging issues that impact the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer individuals.

The new LGBTQ office will work in collaboration with all County departments and in partnership with non-government ally and advocacy organizations to develop innovative strategies to help address the needs of the LGBTQ community on issues that include housing, education, health, public safety and community engagement.

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Through assessment, research, analysis and strategic collaboration, the Office of LGBTQ Services will work to support the LGBTQ community in Union County and beyond. The Office of LGBTQ Services will provide essential support that impacts the quality of life for LGBTQ people and allies through community building and human services.

Several prominent New Jersey organizations that serve the LGBTQ community applauded Union County for establishing the first County government LGBTQ office in the State of New Jersey.

"Garden State Equality is proud to support the State's first County government LGBTQ office," said Christian Fuscarino, Garden State Equality (GSE) Executive Director, adding, "We commend Chairman Granados and the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders for establishing the office with a mission to advocate for and support LGBTQ and ally residents of Union County. As New Jersey's largest LGBT organization, we feel such pride to see a growing number of establishments that share a similar mission to our own. GSE is thrilled to now have another ally in the fight for a more equal New Jersey.".

"As advocates for abused, neglected and abandoned youth removed from home and placed in foster care through no fault of their own, CASA of Union County believes that respect for the inherent dignity, worth and human rights of all individuals is fundamental,"  said Marla Higginbotham, CASA of Union County Executive Director. "In our day-to-day work, we strive to ensure all foster youth find permanency in an environment in which they are safe, affirmed and supported - and this is especially true for those whose rights may be more easily unfulfilled or violated. We applaud Chairman Granados for creating the state's first county Office of LGTBQ Services, under the Department of Human Services' Division of Outreach and Advocacy. LGBTQ issues are foster care issues, too."

"Hyacinth AIDS Foundation is thrilled the Freeholder Board of Union County has established an office for LGBTQ residents. Partnerships with local leaders afford us the opportunity to be a voice in the public debate surrounding HIV/AIDS and provide the services necessary to end this horrific epidemic," said Kathy Ahearn-O'Brien, Executive Director of Hyacinth.

Through the Union County Office of LGBTQ Services, the Union County Board of Chosen Freeholders will host community engagement events including the first Union County LGBTQ PRIDE flag raising ceremony to launch PRIDE Month and the second annual Union County Family PRIDE CommUNITY Picnic. The Office will also facilitate access to resources, information, and programs on LGBTQ awareness days, a resource directory of LGBTQ-friendly organizations and businesses, as well as a list of federal and state legislative decisions on LGBTQ issues, and other areas of interest to the LGBTQ community and their allies. In February, the Office of LGBTQ Services will host a roundtable for organizations that serve the LGBTQ community to discuss programs, services, issues and priorities for 2018.