Gay Leaders on Cuomo Transition Team

BY Julie Bolcer

November 17 2010 11:15 AM ET

Brian Ellner, senior strategist for the Human Rights Campaign's effort to win marriage equality in New York, has been named to the education transition committee of Governor-elect Andrew Cuomo, becoming the latest leader of a group lobbying for marriage equality to help the governor in his talent search.

Cuomo, who has placed a premium on filling posts for his administration, which begins in January, announced the formation of his final three transition committees Tuesday in the areas of education and health, transportation and infrastructure, and state and local government reform. The committees are charged with recruiting, reviewing, and recommending candidates for administration positions.

Until recently, Ellner served as a senior aide to New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg at the Department of Education, where he helped to shape the Respect for All program against antigay bullying in city schools. This past summer he was tapped to lead HRC’s Campaign for New York Marriage, one of many groups working on their own and together to pass the marriage equality bill in the state senate. In addition to behind the scenes work, the campaign has released a number of high-profile videos that feature celebrity New Yorkers like Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon expressing their support for marriage equality.



Ellner joins Ross Levi,
the executive director of the Empire State Pride Agenda, the statewide LGBT lobbying group, who over the weekend was named to the Cuomo transition committee for
human services and housing. Levi also serves on the
transition team for Attorney General-elect Eric Schneiderman, performing double duty, as does NARAL Pro-Choice New York president Kelli Conlin.

In a statement, Ellner said, “I am honored to have been named to Governor-elect Cuomo's transition committee for education. Creating the best educational opportunities in this difficult economic environment will be challenging, but it is of vital importance and I am confident we can help the Governor-elect attract diverse top-notch talent for the task at hand. Andrew Cuomo is committed to creating meaningful educational options for all students across the state and making sure that our schools are safe spaces where all children can learn.”

Attorney General Cuomo was criticized for his staff's lack of diversity in race and gender during his gubernatorial campaign and for part of the transition. The Democrat has expressed his full support for marriage equality, but three state senate races remain undecided, although advocates are hopeful for another vote in 2011.



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