Dig Baton Rouge

Louisiana Loves, Pt. II

By Nick BeJeaux

The Louisiana Loves project is one step closer to completion, after dozens of LGBT couples from across the state converged on the Capitol Building for the projects photoshoot.

By this summer, Capital City Alliance and Equality Louisiana hope to coalesce these photos into a single bound book with the goal of bringing a face to the LGBT community and capturing history.

“I’m really excited about the diversity of all the people we have here today,” said Kayla Mulford, President of CCA. “We have people all over the state, an even mix of men and women, the transgender population is represented as well, all races are here today, and we have ages between 19 and 67 years old here today. Some people here have been together for a year and some have been together for 38 years. Our goal with this project is to represent all of Louisiana’s LGBT couples here and I think we did a very good job of doing that.”

The statewide project is expected to be complete by early June and the book is expected to be on sale shortly after that.

“We want to create something that everyone can afford,” said Dave Samuels, CCA treasurer. “We’d love to have a glossy coffee table book, but because there are fifty couples, that means it will be at least 25 pieces of paper. Also, we have to thank people, we have to write introductions, so it will be as many as thirty pages, definitely in color, and as high quality as we can go.”

EQLA, CCA’s partner in this venture, will soon be taking to the capitol again for the Legislative Session, where LGBT rights will again be fought for.

“We’ll definitely be back here at the Capitol,” said Rachel Berard, an event organizer for EQLA. “Their working on a Employment Non-Discrimination Act and were also really focusing on housing non-discrimination for LGBT people.”

CCA is a 501c3 organization, meaning that they do not do political lobbying of any kind. However, Mulford believes that what they are doing with Louisiana Loves is just as important as the work lobbying EQLA does.

“What we hope to do with our campaigns is to promote awareness within the community and educate people on issues that LGBT people face,” she said. “I am personally a firm believer in that you’re not going to get legislators to change anything unless the public demands it, and that what we’re trying to promote.”

The decision by the Supreme Court to keep or overturn Louisiana’s ban on same-sex marriage will be rendered in June. Kim Schilling and Chelsea Schilling of Prairieville were one of the couple’s at the photoshoot but unlike many of them, Kim and chelsea are already married. In fact, the day of the shoot was there first wedding anniversary. Not keen on waiting, the pair married in Iowa for their union to be recognized at the federal level and then returned to Louisiana to live near family and friends. But it hasn’t been happily ever after, at least not yet.

“When I got my job, Chelsea [a teacher] was still under her parents insurance and when she turned 26 I thought ‘oh no big deal, I’ll just slap her on my insurance,’” said Kim, an accountant. “The I realized that I can’t so that, I can’t even pay extra to have her on my insurance – it’s not even an option. She has to be legally bound to me in the states eyes.”

Insurance is just one of the many hiccups that couples like Chelsea and Kim face, but that hasn’t discouraged them.

“The only thing that is different from us and a ‘normal’ married couple is on paper,” said Kim. “Taxes are a nightmare to do because we have to prepare four different federal taxes just to file our state and federal correctly.”

“Thank God I married an accountant,” said Chelsea.

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