Thursday, January 14, 2010

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 and a member of the editorial team for, 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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