LGBTQ+ Justice Fund
Imagine having your house, your health benefits or even your children taken away. You feel helpless. You do not know what to do or where to turn for help. Now imagine you are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender. Your situation just became more difficult and riskier. If you do not have the income to get legal representation, you are left with no place to turn.
The movement for full equality for LGBTQ+ people has seen incredible progress in a short time. But there are still many threats to the laws that protect LGBTQ+ people. Not only do they face discrimination in employment and housing, but they also find that current laws do not address their specific needs and concerns. We must make sure that every LGBTQ+ person has access to justice. They ought to be able to rely on civil legal aid providers to get them the help they deserve. We need to be sure that they know how to get the services they need.
From domestic violence and custody battles to evictions and restraining orders, most Americans have no idea that there is no constitutional right to a lawyer. While these types of situations can be devastating for anyone, it is particularly challenging for LGBTQ+ people living in poverty. Civil legal aid is the only safety net for thousands of Maine residents each year who find themselves in desperate need of legal assistance but cannot afford it. The dedicated people providing civil legal aid do not have enough resources to help everyone who needs it. They are forced to turn away many people in dire need of legal assistance.
In recognition of this special need to support the LGBTQ+ community, the LGBTQ+ Fund was founded in 2016 by Bill Robitzek, then President of the Maine Justice Foundation. Bill was a successful trial lawyer for over 35 years before starting his current practice as a mediator, arbitrator, and trial consultant. Bill started this important fund to provide funding for nonprofit organizations that address the civil legal aid needs of low-income and LGBTQ+ Mainers in need. An Advisory Committee will make grant recommendations each year for the distribution of grants. The committee will include fund founders, grants committee members of the Foundation, and people involved in the work supporting LGBTQ+ people.
A Call to Action
Will you help create a critical safety net for LGBTQ+ people with your contribution to the LGBTQ+ today? With your commitment to justice and your charitable investment in this special fund, we can increase funding for legal aid programs that help the neediest of LGBTQ+ Maine residents who face life-altering civil legal issues. Resources are severely limited. We need your help now.
Contributions to the LGBTQ+ Fund of Maine Justice Foundation can be made online or mailed to:
Maine Justice Foundation
124 State Street, Suite 2
Augusta, ME 04330
Sponsorship Levels for the LGBTQ+ Fund
Partner for Change ($10,000)
Supporters (up to $4999)
For more information on the work of the Fund or to learn more about different sponsorship levels, please contact Executive Director, Michelle Draeger at email@example.com or Linsey MacDougall, Development & Programs Manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
LGBTQ+ Fund Advisory Committee Members
The Advisory Committee will outline the programmatic scope of the Fund's work, issue a request for proposals and review, and recommend grants from the Fund. Collectively, the Advisory Committee brings incredible expertise, knowledge and dedication that will turn the LGBTQ+ Fund into a powerful force for change. We are grateful for their generous gifts of time and talent to this important endeavor.
Judith A. Fletcher Woodbury, President
Judy retired from Pierce Atwood’s Commercial Real Estate Group where her practice focused on commercial and residential acquisitions, development, sales, and financing throughout Maine and Northern New England. Pursuant to gubernatorial appointment, Judy was a public member on the Board of Licensure for Professional Land Surveyors. She served on the Boards of Directors of Friends of Casco Bay and Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Southern Maine, on the Governance Committee for the Campaign for Justice, and as inaugural Chair of the Peter DeTroy Award Committee. Judy’s education includes a JD from the University of Maine School of Law and a BA with highest distinction from the University of Maine. Judy has served on the Maine Justice Foundation Board since 2014. She has been co-chair of the Development Committee and served on the Governance Committee. Her vision for the Foundation’s future includes increasing visibility of the Foundation among attorneys and the non-legal community across Maine.
After three decades working in international business in the public and private sectors and developing trade and investment opportunities with the North Atlantic/Arctic regions and Asia, Dana Eidsness joined the Governor’s Office of Policy Innovation and the Future in 2023 to coordinate the implementation of Maine’s ambitious Roadmap to End Hunger by 2030. Dana is a 2019 MaineBiz Next List Honoree, honoring businesspeople who are changing Maine’s economy for the better and is a member of the International Women’s Forum, an invitation-only network of the most accomplished women in the world, connecting women leaders across every professional sector in support of each other and the common mission of advancing women’s leadership and championing equality worldwide. A lifelong ally of the LGBTQ+ community, Dana is the proud mother of a transgendered teenaged son and an adult daughter. She and her husband, Mark live, work, and have raised their family on Orr’s Island in Harpswell.
Jess Feinberg joined the faculty at the University of Maine School of Law in August 2020. She is a nationally recognized expert in family law and gender and sexuality law. Professor Feinberg teaches introductory and advanced family law courses, elder law, and contracts. Her scholarship focuses on the law’s treatment of intimate and familial relationships, with a focus on LGBTQ+ individuals and their families.
Joanne Lewis is a prosecutor in Bangor who handles cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, and crimes against children. She is a proud member of the LGBTQ+ community and is excited to assist in bringing fairness and inclusion to our community.
Jess is originally from New York City. She graduated from Maine Law in 2022. She is currently the Coffin Family Law Fellow at Pine Tree Legal Assistance in Portland.
- NASW (National Association of Social Workers) Maine: A grant to create a training certificate program to be offered for free to behavioral health clinicians and students across Maine to develop skills in working collaboratively with families, schools, primary care, and ancillary providers to better wrap around care for LGBTQ+ individuals.
- Maine TransNet: A grant to expand their work providing cultural competency training to medical and mental health care providers working within the LGBTQ+ community.
- Alfond Youth & Community Center: A grant to support their Folks Organizing Reform for Queer Spaces (FORQS) program which includes a social club for LGBTQ+ teens, professional development to its members and the Maine Queer Convention.
- Equality Maine Foundation: A grant to conduct a feasibility study for an Equality Maine LGBTQ+ legal aid clinic.
- OUT Maine: A grant to support efforts in building inclusive schools through an integrated school climate program to implement best practices of inclusive school environments.
The Young and the Old
Young LGBTQ+ people are especially vulnerable. At times, rejected by their families they may face homelessness, loss of healthcare and other essentials. Even when families accept them and provide a loving home, at-risk youth find a world that is discriminatory - and worse. LGBTQ+ youth and the children of LGBTQ+ parents experience harassment and discrimination regularly in institutions like schools and welfare programs, among others.
LGBTQ+ teens and young adults have one of the highest rates of suicide attempts. This unfortunate phenomenon the result of biases inherent in heterocentric cultures and institutionalized homophobia.
Lack of relationship recognition has detrimental financial impact on many LGBTQ+ Americans, particularly LGBTQ+ seniors who have faced a lifetime of discrimination and unequal treatment. Thus, LGBTQ+ seniors are more likely to be poorer and less financially secure than non-LGBTQ+ seniors.
Aging LGBTQ+ individuals and couples are concerned about social and geographic isolation, declining health, the risks of financial fraud and elder abuse, the complexities of the health care system and the availability of services to help them stay safe in their homes and communities. These concerns are compounded by fears their sexual orientation will affect the personal care and other services they need, both at home and in an assisted-living or nursing home setting.
Poverty is an LGBTQ+ issue
Using federal poverty guidelines from 2007 to 2014, recent reports show that LGBTQ+ adults regardless of relationship status are more vulnerable to poverty than heterosexual adults, same-sex couples are more vulnerable to poverty than different-sex married couples, and transgender people are the most susceptible to poverty as they are four times more likely to have a household income of less than $10,000/ year compared to the general population. As a result, the LGBTQ+ community is more likely to receive government assistance like cash assistance, Supplemental Social Security (SSI), and SNAP (also known as food stamps).