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Socarides, Eleveld to Leave Equality Matters

Socarides, Eleveld to Leave Equality Matters

The original leadership team of Equality Matters, an LGBT advocacy arm of the watchdog group and Fox News antagonist Media Matters launched last December, will leave their posts by year's end, the organization announced Tuesday.

Equality Matters president Richard Socarides, a former senior policy adviser to President Bill Clinton and frequent cable news pundit on LGBT issues, will return to law practice in New York, where he says he will also maintain an activist role.

Kerry Eleveld, a former Advocate Washington correspondent originally hired as editor of Equality Matters' website, is leaving to work on a book on recent LGBT history.

"Even before this year, when I was head of an organization, I tried to speak out, to write, to help formulate policy narratives that would accelerate progress," Socarides told The Advocate. "And I'm going to continue to do everything I've been doing. It wasn't always a success, but this has been a good experience."

Conceived as a "communications war room for gay equality," Equality Matters has attempted to bridge advocacy work with the core watchdog mission of Media Matters, founded in 2004 by David Brock. Antigay targets from the National Organization for Marriage to Chick-Fil-A, which donated $2 million to antigay groups in 2009, have all been in the group's crosshairs throughout the year.

In a Tuesday statement on the duo's departure, Media Matters founder David Brock said Equality Matters will continue to operate, though no replacements have been named. The website has just one full-time staff member and draws from Media Matters' staff for contributions and research. Brock attempted to strike an upbeat tone on the staff shake-up, however.

"When we launched our Equality Matters initiative at the end of 2010, we were convinced that additional and focused resources in our core expertise areas -- correcting conservative misinformation plus training and communications -- could be put to use to help take advantage of a potentially historic and transformative moment in gay rights," Brock said. "One year later, we know we were right."

Full statements:

Richard Socarides, President, Equality Matters:

"I am very grateful to have had the opportunity to lead Equality Matters during its first year. I've decided to return full time to New York and my law practice and activism there, at the end of the year, This has been an amazing year for our communities and LGBT rights. We have accomplished a lot this year, but have so much more to do. I look forward to being a part of it."

Kerry Eleveld:

"I'm particularly proud of the work I've done during my fellowship at Equality Matters. I am grateful that I was given the chance to focus on in-depth reporting about serious issues affecting the LGBT community -- and also to publish in places like The Washington Post, The Atlantic and The Daily Beast. In the New Year, I look forward to working full time on a book about the past several years in LGBT history."

David Brock, founder, Media Matters:

"When we launched our Equality Matters initiative at the end of 2010, we were convinced that additional and focused resources in our core expertise areas -- correcting conservative misinformation plus training and communications -- could be put to use to help take advantage of a potentially historic and transformative moment in gay rights. One year later, we know we were right.

"We are proud of what we have accomplished in our first year and remain firmly committed to continuing this effort next year and beyond.

"I am very grateful to have Richard Socarides lead this initiative in its first year. Having someone of his intellect, stature, and experience was a significant factor in our first year success. He will continue, I am sure, to have major impact in our fight for a progressive country and I will continue to rely on his advice and counsel."

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