Board Member Spotlight: Anne Stanback
December 23, 2012
Behind every strong organization is a strong Board of Directors - and Freedom to Marry has a dedicated and diverse group of individuals working each day to secure the freedom to marry nationwide. This year, we want to help you get to know each board member little bit better. This week, we hear from Anne Stanback, the Chair of Freedom to Marry Action's Board of Directors. Anne was a founding member and Executive Director of Love Makes a Family, the lead organization that successfully campaigned for the freedom to marry in Connecticut, and she also oversaw the passage of a 1991 law in the state to prohibit employment, housing, credit, and public acommodations discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. In 2006, Anne was honored by being inducted into the Connecticut Women's Hall of Fame, a credit to her years of work with the Connecticut Women's Education and Legal Fund and the National Abortion Rights Action League. She currently lives in Avon, CT with her wife Charlotte, who she has been with for over 28 years.
1) Where are you from, and what brought you to Connecticut?
I'm originally from Salisbury, North Carolina and came to Connecticut to attend Yale Divinity School in 1982. I never expected to stay in Connecticut, but I met my future wife while I was living in New Haven and have been here, and with her, for almost 30 years.
2) You've worked tirelessly to advance the rights of the LGBT community and women in Connecticut. What are some of the things you have learned from your previous work, and how have they inspired your future work with Freedom to Marry?
Three things come immediately to mind. One is the necessity of building strong coalitions. The LGBT community alone is not large enough to do all the work that needs to be done. But the power of partnerships isn't just about numbers; it's also about messengers. Sometimes we're the best messengers to talk about our lives. But sometimes we're not. As was true in my work on reproductive rights and women's rights, the more diverse our allies and partners were, the more successful we were.
And that brings me to a second thing I've learned: Don't make assumptions about who your allies actually are. A lot has changed in the twelve years since Love Makes a Family formed, but in early years, our organizers and volunteers-all of us, in fact-had to continually be reminded not to assume that just because someone had gray hair or black or brown skin or was religious meant that they were against us. Time and again, we were surprised with the support we found. These conversations provided some of the most compelling moments in our campaign.
And finally, I learned the importance of taking risks when it came to standing on principle. Love Makes a Family pushed back hard against a civil union compromise. It was hard to do and we risked the wrath of friends and opponents alike. But it was worth the risk because it made clear that marriage was far more than the sum of its legal rights.
One sees all of these components in the work of Freedom to Marry: strong partnerships, outreach to diverse and unexpected constituencies and a willingness to take risks that have contributed to so many of the amazing victories we saw this past year.
3) What do you like to do in your free time?
Like a lot of activists, organizing for various causes and candidates seems to fill a lot of my free time. That said, I'm completely happy gardening or biking or hiking in warmer weather or curled up next to a fire with a good book when it's cold outside.
4) What has been your favorite "freedom to marry" moment - a time in the movement that has particularly resonated with you?
The romantic in me would have to say my own wedding, but the activist would choose something else. After working for ten years to change the laws of Connecticut, it's hard not to pick the day the Kerrigan decision was released or the day shortly thereafter when the first couples in the state started marrying. But if I'm honest, my favorite "freedom to marry moment" would have to be the morning of November 18, 2003 as I read the moving and powerful language of the Massachusetts Goodridge decision on my computer screen. I knew that day that the ground had shifted and that nothing would ever be the same.
5) Why does the freedom to marry matter to you?
This movement is about love and family and freedom and equality under the law. It doesn't get much more basic than that.