Blog Entries by Megan Kinninger

Freedom to Marry Announces New Staff and New Capacity For Marriage Push in New Decade

Freedom to Marry Press Release
January 14, 2010


Key Leaders Join Organization to Seize the Opportunities to Achieve Nationwide Goals

In order to build on the momentum and meet the opportunities arising from a decade of unparalleled success, Freedom to Marry announces three new staff members and the creation of new capacity for marriage equality work across the country. Thalia Zepatos, a nationally recognized organizer and campaign expert, joins Freedom to Marry as Director of Public Engagement; Michael Crawford, a prominent new media voice and a leader in the District of Columbia’s fight to win the freedom to marry, joins as Director of New Media; and Sean Eldridge, a leading youth organizer for Obama for America with corporate, non-profit, and political experience, joins as Freedom to Marry’s Director of Communications.

Since its launch in 2003, Freedom to Marry has served as a key catalyst and strategist in the marriage movement, cultivating a sustained, affirmative, and collaborative approach to winning the freedom to marry while providing a transformative and consistent voice for marriage across the country. Now, following a landmark year of success in 2009, opportunities abound to grow support for equality and fairness for all, and Freedom to Marry is stepping in to new roles to make those opportunities come to life. With the help of these new staff, Freedom to Marry will provide messaging and message delivery expertise to all our partners across the country and will build and deploy an online presence that will provide Americans tools and a shared platform to support the freedom to marry, take action, and enlist others.

“Freedom to Marry was founded to adapt to the expanding needs of the marriage movement and moment, and with these hires and new capacity, we continue to provide the means of securing a majority for marriage and a path to victory,” said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry. “Thalia, Michael, and Sean each bring crucial expertise, new energy, and creative talent to our evolving national campaign to win the freedom to marry, and we are honored to have them join us.”

Thalia Zepatos has thirty years’ experience as a community organizer, campaign manager, and political consultant, focusing on building political power for underrepresented communities. While serving as the Director of the Organizing & Training Department at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, Zepatos played a key role in Let California Ring, a statewide public education campaign aimed at opening hearts and minds on the issue of marriage equality. For the past two years, she has been the coordinating consultant for a national coalition of gay rights organizations, where she worked with state and national leaders on winning marriage equality. She lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband, Mike.

Michael Crawford has a wide range of experience in political advocacy, new media, and grassroots organizing. He is co-founder and co-chair of D.C. for Marriage, a grassroots group that helped to pass the D.C. marriage bill last December. Crawford’s prior experience includes serving as Associate Field Director at Human Rights Campaign, Communications Director at Energy Action Coalition, and Online Director for Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington. Crawford is currently Managing Editor of dc.bilerico.com and a member of the editorial team for www.bilerico.com, one of the top sites covering LGBT politics and culture. Crawford was named as one of The Advocate Magazine's 2009 People of the Year.

Sean Eldridge brings to Freedom to Marry a range of corporate, nonprofit, and political experience. As an early youth organizer for Obama for America, Sean served as one of the principal architects of the campaign's national student movement. Previously, he served on the Board of Directors of the Friends of GLBT Youth in Massachusetts and on the Board of Community Relations for the City of Toledo, Ohio. Sean worked for companies in Cambridge and Silicon Valley and studied at Deep Springs College, Brown, and Columbia University. Eldridge will offer the marriage movement a deep set of contacts and ability to move seamlessly between classic communications and new media opportunities.

The expansion of Freedom to Marry comes at the dawn of a new decade and follows 2009, the winningest year yet in the movement to achieve the freedom to marry for gay couples, a year which once again showed that momentum is on the side of marriage equality. Freedom to Marry’s new staff and new capacity will harness this momentum and work to continue to build and maximize it in order to keep advancing toward the freedom to marry nationwide.

Look for a new and enhanced website in February that will feature the new capacities of Freedom to Marry to support and mobilize non-gay and gay people committed to ending the exclusion from marriage and fulfilling America’s promise of liberty and justice for all.

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Watch NOW New Jersey Senate Debate Freedom to Marry Bill

New Jersey Senate
January 7, 2010

View the live feed of the New Jersey Senate session here (http://www.njn.net/newspublicaffairs/coverage/gaymarriagevote.html) as they prepare to discuss the pending freedom to marry bill.

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View From Washington: 2009 and Obama

The Advocate
December 30, 2009

Kerry Eleveld writes, "In assessing the year in LGBT rights, what is most striking to me is the Obama administration’s unwillingness to engage on almost anything related to relationship recognition. Time and again, the administration has had opportunities to lean into the subject, to nudge the nation a little closer to equality for same-sex couples, and it has repeatedly leaned back, seemingly hoping the subject would disappear into the ether." (Link)

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Photos of Latin America’s first gay wedding

Miami Herald Blog
December 28, 2009

Photos of the first gay couple to marry in Latin America. (Link)

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Video: Marching On

Empire State Pride Agenda
December 18, 2009

On December 2, 2009 the New York State Senate rejected a bill that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry. New Yorkers responded to the vote with sadness and anger, but mostly with renewed determination to win. Join the Pride Agenda as we continue fighting for equal rights for all LGBT New Yorkers and our families. (Link)

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Washington, D.C. Council Votes in Support of the Freedom to Marry

Freedom to Marry Press Release
December 1, 2009


Washington, D.C. Council Votes in Support of the Freedom to Marry
Look to New York and New Jersey to Continue the Momentum Toward Fairness

Statement by Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay People's Right to Marry, following the District of Columbia City Council’s 11-2 vote in support of the freedom to marry, the first of two required votes:
“Today, the District of Columbia’s City Council listened to their constituents and overwhelmingly voted in support of protecting families throughout the District, the first of two votes needed by the council to end the exclusion of gay couples from marriage. A majority of voters, and families, from across New York and New Jersey now look to their representatives in the state legislature to do the right thing and vote in support of the freedom to marry. As research has shown, by voting for the freedom to marry for gay couples, legislators in these states will continue to be re-elected just as every other state legislator who has voted in support of marriage equality and ran for re-election.”

View the report: Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections

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Religious Insights from Indianapolis: Doing As My Priest Taught

One of our Steering Committee members, Tahlib Disney-Britton, who lives in Indianapolis shares daily insights through a google group he maintains. Today he wrote about his experience twenty-two years ago when he baptized his son with his partner:
"Twenty-two years ago, my Catholic priest told me, "Let me worry about church politics." My partner and I went to him to say that Michael, my partner, would be the "God Father" vs. "Other Dad" for our son's baptism, so we could avoid "Catholic politics." His response surprised and affirmed us, "You are both his fathers. Go find a God Father." Today, I read that 60% of Catholics under the age of 30 support the freedom to marry for same-sex couples. My job is to grow that number in Indiana and not worry about church politics, just as my priest taught 22 years ago."

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Catholic Insights from Indianapolis

One of our Steering Committee members, Tahlib Disney-Britton, shares daily insights through a google group he maintains. Recently having moved from New York City back to Indianapolis, he shared insights from attending a Catholic mass in Indianapolis:
"I still attend noon Mass everyday here in Indiana although its different from NYC. Aside from space and technology, it's the message that's most different. In NY, the priests talked about love and sacrifice. Here, it's about going to war with "abortionists" and against "gay marriage." Why don't Episcopalians have daily mass?"

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Attention NY Senators: Evidence that Pro-Marriage Legislators Get Re-Elected

From Evan Wolfson today as the New York Senate considers voting on marriage equality in the special session:
"For years and years now, legislators who vote for the freedom to marry have been re-elected, according to this Freedom to Marry report and documentation. NY's Senators should do the right thing and pass the marriage bill."

Freedom to Marry's report Pro-Marriage Legislators Win Elections shows that contrary to some political expectations, voting to support the freedom to marry and opposing anti-marriage measures helps rather than hurts politicians.

From the report:
“The night I took the vote in June, I was told I would never be elected again. I’m running unopposed.”
— Rep. Teresa R. Sayward, R-North Country, NY, describing her experience with voting for a marriage equality bill in 2007 and getting re-elected in upstate New York in 2008

An analysis of election results is unequivocal: exhibiting leadership by voting to support the freedom to marry helps rather than hurts politicians. For many years legislators across the country have voted on laws aimed at ending the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage. Others have been asked to vote on state constitutional amendments aimed at discriminating against same-sex couples and their children by denying them the freedom to marry.

A review of all of these votes from 2005 to the present shows that legislators who vote to end marriage discrimination for same-sex couples are consistently re-elected. The success of more than 1,100 state legislators who voted to support the freedom to marry stands in bold contrast to the commonly held belief that supporting marriage equality ends political campaigns and careers. In fact, these legislators are re-elected no matter what party they represent or if they changed their vote from opposing to supporting marriage equality.
(Link)

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Help WA, ME and Kalamazoo Win on November 3rd: Spread the Word About the Campaigns Today

The election is less than a week away, the races are tight in each state, and every action counts. Here's what's going on and how you can help.


Washington:


Who we are: Approve Referendum 71 is the campaign to preserve domestic partnerships in Washington State. By voting to approve, voters retain the domestic partnership laws that were passed during this year's legislative session, including using sick leave to care for a partner, adoption rights, insurance rights, and more.



What we need: We need phone bankers to get our supporters out to vote. Washington is an all mail-in ballot state, and we need to ensure our supporters put their ballots in the mail. Also, youth turnout is a critical component of our campaign, and youth turnout historically drops in off-year elections. So we need a lot of help to turn them out.



How you do it: Sign up here to make remote calls for Approve 71. We'll then contact you for a training, and you can make GOTV calls.



Maine:


Who we are: The No On 1/Protect Maine Equality campaign is working to protect Maine's recently-passed law legalizing marriage equality for same-sex couples. Our opponents have put the issue on the ballot for Nov 3, 2009. Because of Maine's early voting election laws, people are already voting at the polls, so we need help immediately to turn out our side at the polls.



What we need: We need you to devote a few hours to Call for Equality. Call for Equality is a virtual phonebank set up so that you can call Maine voters wherever you are. Much of Maine is rural, where canvassing isn't effective, so we need to reach these voters- along with other supporters- by phone. All you need is a phone and internet connection. No experience required! We'll provide the training, and all you need is a a few hours to help get a win in Maine.



How you do it: Click here to sign up for a training and your shift. There are lots of times available for your convenience.



Kalamazoo, MI:



Goal Thermometer

Who We Are: The Yes on Ordinance 1856 / One Kalamazoo campaign is working in Michigan to support the City Commission of Kalamazoo's twice approved ordinance for housing, employment, and public accommodation protections for gay and transgender residents. Opponents forced a public referendum on the ordinance so dedicated local volunteers, led by former Stonewall Democrats Executive Director Jon Hoadley, are working to ensure voters say YES to fairness and equality and keep Ordinance 1856.



Why The Urgency: In the final weeks, the opposition has gone all out with aggressive disinformation and misleading red herrings to try to defeat the ordinance. This includes signs that say "No to Discrimination" (even though voting No actually supports continued discrimination of GLBT residents), transphobic door hangers and fliers, and now radio ads that falsely suggest that criminal behavior will become legal when this simply isn't true. The Yes on Ordinance 1856 supporters are better organized but many voters who want to vote for gay and transgender people are getting confused by the opposition.



How To Help:



1) Help the One Kalamazoo campaign raise a final $10,000 specifically dedicated to fight back against the lies on the local TV and radio airwaves and fully fund the campaign's final field and GOTV efforts.



Give here: http://www.actblue.com/page/3-2-1-countdown



2) If you live nearby and can physically volunteer in Kalamazoo sign up here. If you know anyone that lives in Kalamazoo, use the One Kalamazoo campaign's online canvass tool to remind those voters that they need to vote on November 3rd and vote YES on Ordinance 1856 to support equality for gay and transgender people.



Contact voters: http://www.onekalamazoo.com/tellfriends2

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