Staff Spotlight: Shawn Werner, Director of Political Operations

Freedom to Marry has a dedicated and diverse staff working each day to secure the freedom to marry nationwide, and we want to help you get to know each of us a little bit better. This week, we hear from Shawn Werner, Freedom to Marry's Director of Political Operations. Shawn works in Washington, D.C., where he provides strategic assistance to state-based organizations working toward the freedom to marry . He comes to us from the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund, where he worked to help elect dozens of LGBT candidates for public office. He received his bachelor's degree in political science from Dickinson College.

1) Where are you from, and what brought you to Washington, D.C.?

I am originally from Derry, PA which is approximately 45 minutes from Pittsburgh. I came to Washington, D.C. in 2004 to intern with the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, and I instantly fell in love with the city. After graduating college in 2006, I returned to DC to work full-time with the Victory Fund. At the Victory Fund, I helped the campaigns of dozens of LGBT candidates in breakthrough elections, including Houston Mayor Annise Parker, Cincinnati City Councilmember Chris Seelbach, Oklahoma State Representative Al McAffrey, and Maryland House of Delegates Luke Clippinger and Mary Washington.

2) You've worked on advocacy campaigns for the LGBT community for years - what are some of the things you have learned from your previous work, and how have they informed your time at Freedom to Marry?

When we are open and honest about our lives, we win. From my work electing openly LGBT Americans to public office to fighting for the freedom to marry, talking about who we are continues to be a crucial component of that work. It taps into our common humanity and shows that love and commitment is not about gender. It's about love and commitment.

3) What do you like to do in your free time?

I am first and foremost a Pittsburgh Steelers fan. My mom and I began watching the games when I was a kid, and even now I almost never miss a game. My partner Andrew and I also love spending time exploring good restaurants, watching movies and crime shows like Criminal Minds.  

4) What has been your favorite "freedom to marry" moment - a time in the movement that has particularly resonated with you?

Hands down my favorite moment was watching President Obama affirming his support for the freedom to marry. The president spoke with such compassion about the journey he had taken and how the gay and lesbian people in his life helped him to complete his evolution. It was incredible and further proof of the importance of gay people sharing their personal stories.

5) Why does the freedom to marry matter to you?

For me, it's personal. In spring 2013, I plan to marry the most amazing man I've ever meet. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with him.

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