Karen Ocamb

Andrea Shorter on her new EQCA marriage job

Filed By Karen Ocamb | March 10, 2009 9:30 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics, Politics
Tags: Andea Shorter, California State Supreme Court, Equality California, gay marriage, LGBT people of color, LGBT politics, marriage equality

Yesterday Equality California announced that they hired two new leaders to help regain the freedom to marry in California. (The press release has their full bios.)

Shorter_Leno.jpgMarc Solomon - the highly regarded executive director of MassEquality - will be EQCA's new "marriage director."

EQCA also hired Andrea Shorter, who recently lead the post-Prop 8 Equality Summit. Shorter is co-founder and director of And Marriage For All, a public-education campaign that engages communities of color in dialogue about the freedom to marry for same-sex couples, and the co-founder and chair of the Bayard Rustin LGBT Coalition, the largest African-American LGBT political organization in the Bay Area.

I did a quick email interview with Andrea shortly after the announcement..

Here's what she said:

"I start now.

"This work needs to be done because it is fundamental to building a true grassroots, coalition-driven effort to not only win marriage equality in California, but ultimately renew our engagement long term civil and human rights movement. It's clear that we need to strengthen our own infrastructure within the LGBT community, while we work effectively for change with faith-based, labor, and other key allies who are incorporating the LGBT fight for equality into their movements.

"Furthermore, it's time to more directly recognize, appreciate and support the diversity of LGBT people in this state. California is one-eighth of the United States, and remains the most ethnically diverse state in this nation, and that includes the diversity and talent of the LGBT community. EQCA understands the need to empower LGBT organizations of color and the LGBT leaders of color, which is why part of my job will also be to provide the necessary resources and support to LGBT organizations focusing on work in communities of color so that they have the resources to lead the work.

"We actually have more allies than we've ever had demanding a place at the table in our quest for full civil rights. They are stepping up to the plate, and we must step up to fully engage those partnerships. We need each other in common cause to deter and defeat opposing forces that seek to keep us all from realizing equal, civil, and human rights.

"This is the leadership challenge for the LGBT liberation movement in the 21st Century.

"To really boil it down, here are some key priorities to which I proposed to start building a grassroots-driven, statewide coalition:

  • Establish new and develop current relationships with diverse communities of all kinds: whether based on race, ethnicity, language, faith, geography, class or political affiliation to facilitate same-sex marriage education in California. This will occur to also build awareness of the Let California Ring coalition.
  • Work with coalition partners to identify capacity building needs of coalition partners and work to provide financial assistance to under resourced organizations.
  • Establish relationships with non-member allies.
  • Create collaborative communication vehicle to keep all members updated on coalition activities and results.

"I'm looking forward to working closely with Geoff [Kors, executive director of EQCA], the EQCA team, and Marc Solomon. Marc and I just recently met and he seems very clear on the challenges ahead and ways to win marriage equality in California. He brings a great deal of experience and success from MassEquality. He is clearly one of the most sought out advisers and organizers on winning marriage equality. I think we're fortunate to have him involved in our fight.

"Coalition building for the long term is my focus. Coupling this effort with the larger field operations that Marc will undertake will be key -- I expect it to be a good marriage.

"Certainly we want to be prepared to respond for either outcome from the [California Supreme] Court, but I think it's very important right now that we let the Court deliberate first before making any hard, fast decisions about initiative battles, etc. We still have lots of work to do to educate Californians about LGBT people and our families and that work needs to continue no matter how the Court rules.

"Repealing DOMA is clearly a top priority, and our efforts should compliment each other. I look forward to working with GLAD [which recently filed a federal lawsuit challenging DOA] about where and how to coordinate efforts to reasonable and best effect."

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I'll be excited to see what she brings to the job. She sounds extremely well qualified.

"Extremely well-qualified" is an understatement, basically.

After the forum, she was strolling out with some of the people I was with, and joking. She was recounting that someone had told her something like, "I hope you're doing okay, considering all the stress you're probably under." And she said something like, "Stress? Stress? You think this is stressful? I'm a black lesbian! Do I have a job? Great! Food to put on the table? Great!" Or something to this effect.

She was dynamic, too, at the Nov 15 Join the Impact rally I saw her speak at. Clearly at home in spaces large and small, and with a clear vision.

Hella smart move on Geoff Kors' part, and not a moment too soon.