Bil Browning

Equality Matters Staffers Leave Org

Filed By Bil Browning | November 22, 2011 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: The Movement
Tags: Equality Matters, Kerry Eleveld, Media Matters, Richard Socarides

The Washington Blade has investigated a topic that many of us in the LGBT media have been wondering for a while now. What happened to Equality Matters? The group was launched with great fanfare last year, but has slowly faded into nothingness.

Long-time activist Richard Socarides, a former advisor to President Clinton on LGBT issues, was at the helm and former Advocate reporter equality-matters-logo-300x70.jpegKerry Eleveld was tapped to run their website and communications guru Trevor Thomas took over comm duty for the new org. They were featured on TV news and highlighted in many newspapers, but now the group has become a one man operation under the supervision of parent group Media Matters as the three split ways with Equality Matters.

"I remain committed to the success of the organization," Socarides said in an interview with the Washington Blade on Monday, adding that he plans to return to practicing law in New York and will remain involved in LGBT advocacy. Eleveld is writing a book.

Equality Matters promised to be the "communications war room for gay equality" pushing back against anti-gay messages in the media. However, the project may have become a reduced priority for its parent organization, Media Matters, founded by journalist David Brock.

Though initially able to recruit well-known players in the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" repeal fight, including Eleveld and Servicemembers Legal Defense Network's communications director, Trevor Thomas, the "rapid response war room" project has lost most of its staff and is down to one dedicated employee, Carlos Maza.

"Virtually 100 percent of his time is spent on the Equality Matters side," Socarides said of Maza, when asked which staffers are still employed there.

Socarides described the structure of Equality Matters today as an entity without its own core staff, whose resources come from the larger Media Matters organization.

It's a damn shame. Kerry is one of the best reporters in the LGBT media and I was really hopeful this was a step up for her. I can't wait to buy her book; I hope she lands on her feet.

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This doesn't surprise me as it seemed that EM chiefly existed to promote marriage rights exclusively, and that kind of tunnelvision just doesn't fly with most of the modern American LGBT community anymore.

Here's hoping that a more broadly-focused org rises to replace them.

While Kerry is good and all; I felt that EM was in part, a sounding board for her frustrations with Obama.