In order to build on the momentum and meet the opportunities arising from a decade of unparalleled success, Freedom to Marry has brought on three new staff members with 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 Columbiaâ€™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, nonprofit, and political experience, joins as Freedom to Marryâ€™s Director of Communications.
Freedom to Marry is the gay and non-gay partnership working to win marriage equality nationwide. Launched in 2003, Freedom to Marry is headed by Evan Wolfson, nationally recognized as a central â€śarchitect of the marriage equality movement.â€ť Freedom to Marry guides and focuses this social justice movement on a nationwide level, serving as a strategy and support center for national, state, and local partners, a catalyst that drives and shapes the national debate on marriage equality, and an alliance-builder fostering support from non-gay allies.
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 says it will provide messaging and message delivery expertise to all 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.
â€śFreedom 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,â€ť said Evan Wolfson, executive director of Freedom to Marry and author of Why Marriage Matters: America, Equality and Gay Peopleâ€™s Right to Marry. â€śThalia, 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.â€ť
Zepatos has thirty yearsâ€™ 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 â€śLet California Ring,â€ť 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.
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. Crawfordâ€™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 bilerico.com, one of the top sites covering LGBT politics and culture. Crawford was named as one of Advocate magazineâ€™s 2009 People of the Year.
Eldridge brings to Freedom to Marry a range of corporate, nonprofit, and political experience. As an early youth organizer for Obama for America, he served as one of the principal architects of the campaignâ€™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. Eldridge worked for companies in Cambridge and Silicon Valley and studied at Deep Springs College, Brown, and Columbia University. He 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 allegedly most winning 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 Marryâ€™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.