Human Rights Campaign Message to New York Marriage Equality Foes: "We're Coming to Get You"

by HRC Staff

Campaign for New York Marriage Will Focus on Key Races

With the goal of closing the eight-vote gap blocking marriage equality in the New York state Senate, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) -- the nation's largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization -- sent a message to anti-equality incumbents and candidates alike -- "We're coming to get you."

Today, HRC announced the Campaign for New York Marriage which aims to help re-elect senators who voted for marriage equality, defeat incumbent opponents and elect fair-minded candidates to open seats. HRC has tapped Brian Ellner to lead the campaign as senior strategist.

The HRC campaign will work closely with allies and key campaigns to deliver the help they need such as fundraising, campaign workers, door to door canvassing and phone banks. In addition, the Campaign for New York Marriage will strengthen or build coalitions of community, business and faith leaders and mobilize HRC's 70,000 New York members, supporters and donors.

"New York is at a critical tipping point in securing marriage equality and November's elections hold the key," said Joe Solmonese, HRC President. "There is great work going on in New York and our commitment is to add value, strengthen coalitions, close any gaps and get our members out in the field. Make no mistake: if you oppose marriage equality, we are coming to get you. We're thrilled to have Brian lead this important campaign work."

HRC will work collaboratively with Fight Back New York, Empire State Pride Agenda, Freedom to Marry and Marriage Equality New York. With an eye toward efficiency and focus, the organizations are committed to leveraging their individual impact through strategic collaboration.

Ellner is a native New Yorker who grew up in Stuyvesant Town and attended the city's public schools. He was most recently a senior aide in the administration of Mayor Michael Bloomberg, working with the New York City Department of Education. In that role, he was one of the key architects of a new, comprehensive anti-bullying program for public schools, the Respect for All initiative. He also worked with Chancellor Joel I. Klein to develop the Education Equality Project, a national non-profit effort focused on eliminating the racial and ethnic achievement gap.

As a lawyer, Ellner provided free legal counsel to the NYC LGBT Community Center and Freedom to Marry, and worked on several landmark civil rights cases, including Lawrence v. Texas. Brian has also worked with the New York Civil Liberties Union.

HRC's plan and Ellner's appointment were warmly greeted by a number of influential leaders:

"I am glad to learn that HRC will continue working collaboratively with other on-the-ground groups in New York to win marriage equality. Brian Ellner is a great addition to the HRC team," said Christine Quinn, New York City Council Speaker.

"Brian Ellner is a committed and passionate activist and I am pleased that he is devoting his talents to New York's fight for marriage equality," said New York State Senator Tom Duane (D, WFP-Manhattan). "It is terrific that HRC will be working in partnership with the other leading groups in our campaign for marriage equality."

"Brian Ellner brings dynamic energy, strategic insight and a vast network to this effort. I'm excited that HRC members and friends have decided to commit additional expertise and resources to the New York effort for full equality. They are part of an emerging, unbeatable coalition," said long-time New Yorker and LGBT activist Richard Socarides.

"The freedom to marry is within reach in New York within a year, if we all work together. We need all hands on deck, and can't waste anyone's talent and willingness to take on part of the work of shoring up support and removing roadblocks. I am glad to see HRC stepping up its good work and Brian Ellner stepping forward," said Evan Wolfson, Executive Director of Freedom to Marry.

"Our work for marriage equality is enhanced when we work together as a unified movement," said Ross Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, New York's statewide LGBT advocacy organization. "The Pride Agenda looks forward to working with HRC and Brian in close collaboration to achieve this important victory for our community."

HRC already has key field staff on the ground in New York. David Contreras-Turley, a field organizer, is overseeing the day-to-day field operation, while National Field Director Marty Rouse, a New York native, and Sultan Shakir, regional field director, will also be actively engaged in the New York campaign work.


The Human Rights Campaign is America's largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. By inspiring and engaging all Americans, HRC strives to end discrimination against LGBT citizens and realize a nation that achieves fundamental fairness and equalit

Contact Us

To make a general inquiry, please visit our contact page. Members of the media can reach our press office at: (202) 572-8968 or email