Freedom to Marry Announces Three New Operatives



With Battles Ahead in 2012, Freedom to Marry Grows Campaign Staff

Press Contact:
Angela Dallara
Communications Associate

NEW YORK -- With multiple marriage battles ahead in states across the nation, Freedom to Marry today announced three new power-house additions to its campaign team: Shawn Werner, Director of Political Operations; Thomas Wheatley, Director of Organizing; and Che Ruddell-Tabisola, Federal Associate.

"All of us at Freedom to Marry are proud to welcome these three talented operatives to our growing team of experts with proven know-how in winning campaigns," said Marc Solomon, National Campaign Director for Freedom to Marry.  "We have a lot of work ahead in 2012 -- with battles from Washington to Maine -- and with momentum and skill on our side we will work tirelessly to secure our first marriage victory at the ballot, grow the number of states where committed same-sex couples can share in the freedom to marry, and pave the way for an end to federal marriage discrimination."

As Director of Political Operations at Freedom to Marry, Shawn Werner leads Freedom to Marry’s work to win marriage in more states in the eastern part of the country. Prior to joining Freedom to Marry, he served as the Political Director at the Gay & Lesbian Victory Fund where he guided hundreds of LGBT candidates for office to successful elections, including the election of Annise Parker as mayor of Houston.  In the last cycle, Shawn and his team boasted a success rate of 73 percent.   

As Director of Organizing, Thomas Wheatley will lead Freedom to Marry’s work to win marriage in more states in the western part of the country.  In his seven years as Organizing Director at Basic Rights Oregon, Thomas led the freedom to marry movement’s most advanced combined media and field campaign. Most recently, after Oregon elected not to go to the ballot in 2012, Thomas served as Deputy Campaign Manager for the successful congressional campaign of Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR) to fill an open seat in February 2012.  

Che Ruddell-Tabisola is Federal Associate for Freedom to Marry and supports the campaign's Washington, D.C.-based work to end federal marriage discrimination by repealing the so-called Defense of Marriage Act and creating a climate for progress in Congress, the White House, and the courts.  Ruddell-Tabisola previously directed HRC’s Equality Forward study about the lives and experiences of LGBT people of color, and organized in the field to help win marriage in New Hampshire. Most recently he headed the U.S. Census Bureau’s national outreach to LGBT Communities and facilitated the Our Families Count Partnership.

The campaign team assembled by Freedom to Marry Founder and President Evan Wolfson (dubbed “the Godfather of Gay Marriage” by The Daily Beast/Newsweek) is led by National Campaign Director Marc Solomon, who ran the historic campaign to defend the freedom to marry in Massachusetts and, on behalf of Freedom to Marry, helped lead the campaign to win marriage in New York.  Freedom to Marry’s team also includes Director of Public Engagement Thalia Zepatos, who shepherds Freedom to Marry’s ground-breaking messaging work and has years of experience playing a leading role on ballot campaigns nationwide; Senior Adviser Sean Eldridge, who played a key organizing role as National Youth/Student Organizer for the Obama 2008 campaign; Director of Online Programs Michael Crawford, who was a leader in the campaign to win marriage in the District of Columbia; and Jackie Yodashkin, who before joining Freedom to Marry launched earned media efforts around the Lambda Legal lawsuit that won marriage in Iowa.  Freedom to Marry Federal Director Jo Deutsch, a Capitol Hill veteran, guides the organization’s powerful DC presence, which also includes a bipartisan team of lobbyists, operatives and communications specialists.   

Freedom to Marry’s 2012 includes campaigns to secure a freedom to marry plank in the Democratic Party Platform; mobilizing Mayors for the Freedom to Marry across the country; growing congressional support for the Respect for Marriage Act; and major investment in battleground states across the country.  Freedom to Marry is, working to win marriage at the ballot in Maine, defeat a proposed antigay constitutional amendment in Minnesota, defend New Hampshire’s freedom to marry law, override the governor’s veto of the marriage bill in New Jersey, and defend the freedom to marry at the ballot in Washington, as well as continue the public education and persuasion that have created a majority for marriage nationwide.


Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage nationwide. We are pursuing our Roadmap to Victory by working to win the freedom to marry in more states, grow the national majority for marriage, and end federal marriage discrimination. We partner with individuals and organizations across the country to end the exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage and the protections, responsibilities, and commitment that marriage brings.