FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, December 20, 2010
Jess Levin (202) 772-8162
Socarides, Eleveld join in new media and communications initiative EqualityMatters.org
Washington, DC -- Media Matters for America founder and CEO David Brock today announced the launch of Equality Matters, a new media and communications initiative in support of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender equality. Joining Equality Matters as president is Richard Socarides. A leading gay rights advocate for over two decades, Socarides previously served as White House special assistant and principal adviser to President Bill Clinton on gay civil rights issues. Award winning journalist Kerry Eleveld will serve as editor of EqualityMatters.org, which will include news, opinion, and messaging about the ongoing fight for equality. Eleveld is currently Washington Correspondent for The Advocate and will begin her new duties on January 15, 2011.
Brock issued the following statement:
Despite huge progress in gay rights in recent years, exemplified by the historic vote this weekend finally striking down the ban on gay men and women from serving in the military, we are now living through a period of ferocious fundamentalism in the Republican Party and the conservative movement. Traditional conservatives and the Tea Party movement are united only in their contempt for equal rights for all Americans and a desire to return America to a 19th century idyll. Equality Matters will not allow these latter-day 'clerics' to gain serious recognition by the media nor influence the policies that affect the lives of every American.
Despite our best efforts over the years to stiffen the spines of progressives in the face of unrelenting smears from the Republican attack machine, fearful progressives continue to cede the political field to right-wingers who are waging war against core American values. We need to do more. Our new communications war room for gay equality, Equality Matters, will expose right-wing bigotry and homophobia wherever we find it, show that the real political vulnerability on these issues belongs to the GOP, provide a desperately needed ballast in the media, and trigger progressive passion - so that our political leaders act on their convictions and fight for them.
Socarides wrote a column "Why Equality Matters" and issued the following statement:
Our culture is changing rapidly. Most Americans believe that gays and lesbians are entitled to the same rights and responsibilities as their fellow citizens, including now over 50% who believe in marriage equality. Yet in Washington during these last two years, even with the historic passage of "don't ask, don't tell" repeal, we were unable to fully transform favorable public opinion into the powerful and undeniable force for change that it should have been.
Part of the reason for that is the continuing homophobia we face (and need always to counter) from the obstructionist conservative apparatus. But we also missed opportunities.
We believe that the moment for decisive action for full gay equality is here -- that this moment is a historic imperative. The goal of Equality Matters is to leverage our expertise in media and communications, and politics and policy, to support those who share that belief and help create an environment where policymakers, the courts, the media and the public at large understand that gay rights are human rights.
Media Matters is the perfect place to do this -- it has already been at the forefront of exposing hatred and bigotry in the media -- and I am excited that it has once again agreed to take a leadership role in creating an environment for accelerated progressive social change. Media Matters has a substantial record on gay rights already and one that we hope to build on.
Eleveld issued the following statement:
For the past two years, I've had a front-row seat to history. And the longer I sat there, the more drawn I felt to participating in that history rather than reporting on it. The pace of change has been slower than I would like and I've found it increasingly difficult to feign objectivity about my status as a second-class citizen. Now I hope to take the niche I carved out as a journalist in the White House briefing room and build upon it with the full force of my convictions.
From unraveling the right's false attacks on Department of Education official Kevin Jennings to calling out Rep. Steve King (R-IA) for comparing gay marriage to socialism, Media Matters and Media Matters Action Network have been vigilant in holding both the media and elected officials accountable for the myths, falsehoods, and anti-gay rhetoric that so often accompanies the debate on LGBT equality.
Equality Matters will build on the work done by these two organizations. Through strategic communications, research, training and media monitoring, Equality Matters will strengthen efforts for full LGBT rights and correct anti-gay misinformation. Its goal is to enhance advocacy and activism across all platforms and to leverage expertise in support of others who are working to make full equality a national imperative.
More on Richard Socarides:
Richard Socarides is president of Equality Matters. He was White House special assistant and senior adviser to President Bill Clinton, specializing in policy, legal and political issues. He served as principal adviser to Clinton on gay civil rights issues and is one of the highest ranking gay persons ever to serve in the federal government. He has also worked as special assistant to Senator Tom Harkin (D-Iowa).
From 2000 to 2006, Socarides held senior positions in media (Time Warner), entertainment (New Line Cinema), and technology (AOL). He has also held staff positions in several presidential campaigns and served as spokesperson for a Hollywood motion picture studio.
Socarides is an attorney who has authored Op Ed opinion pieces on gay rights for The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Politico.com, The Huffington Post and AmericaBlog, among others. He has received awards from gay rights organizations, including the Human Rights Campaign, the Lesbian and Gay Law Association of Greater New York, the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project and the Hetrick-Martin Institute.
Socarides has served on the boards of directors of GLAAD, the leading media and entertainment industry gay rights organization, and Lambda Legal, the largest and oldest national gay rights legal group. Frequently quoted in national publications, Socarides often appears as a political commentator and expert on television.
More on Kerry Eleveld:
Kerry Eleveld is editor of EqualityMatters.org. As the Washington correspondent for The Advocate, Kerry Eleveld regularly attended White House press briefings with press secretary Robert Gibbs. She conducted two interviews with Barack Obama during the 2008 election and was the only reporter from an LGBT outlet to get a sit-down interview with him. Eleveld has worked as a journalist in different media for over a decade and earned a Master's degree in journalism from the University of California-Berkeley in 2003.
Since she began covering LGBT issues in 2006, Eleveld's work has won: the "Best News Article" award in 2006 from the American Veterans for Equal Rights; second place for "Coverage of Election/Politics" in the New York Press Association's Better Newspaper Contest; and first place in the 2007 "Excellence in News Writing" category as well as the 2010 Sarah Pettit Memorial Award for Excellence in LGBT Media from the National Gay and Lesbian Journalist Association.
Eleveld regularly offers insights about political developments to news outlets such as MSNBC, CNN, the Associated Press, and Sirius Radio.