Equal Rights Washington Welcomes New Executive Director
Rod Hearne, the newly appointed executive director of Equal Rights Washington, described his first week as the new head of the organization as "amazing."
Hearne was named executive director of ERW last month while Josh Friedes, the former top administrator moved to a new position as the organization’s Marriage Equality Director and announced a push for marriage equality in the Evergreen State-as early as 2012.
Hearne, an activist and fundraiser for civil rights causes, will oversee the education fund, lobbying, and other aspects that make up the advocacy organization’s core. Hearne previously served on the board of ERW.
"There is so much going on right now," Hearne told EDGE. "I’ve been working on getting my bearings in the first week as executive director."
He says he is "very impressed" by the outpouring of community support for "not only myself in this new role, but for Josh Friedes and ERW for pressing ahead to achieve marriage equality in Washington State."
Hearne said the level of engagement-from the community and volunteers-is amazing.
Some of the excitement Hearne said he is feeling is, in part, due to the results from the recent internal polls that ERW has conducted. "Things are looking incredibly positive," he said. "The quality of the polls and the number for marriage equality has moved up since what we saw at the last check. We are very excited about that."
Hearne is certainly not new to the LGBT civil rights game. He said he became involved with, and has been impressed with ERW for some time now.
"ERW is the go-to org when stuff needs to go through the legislature," said Hearne. "We’ve got the best lobbying team, volunteers and network of engagement in the state. We are right at the center of political culture for LGBT civil rights."
Hearne added that although there are a lot of great LGBT organizations in Washington and in Seattle in particular, "ERW is at the center of the political sphere."
"Right now, we are at a tipping point with marriage equality and achieving a new benchmark of civil rights for LGBT people in Washington," said Hearne. "Marriage is so iconic in the way we understand our relationships. If we can achieve marriage equality then the way we see each other as LGBT individuals, or straight individuals, won’t be seen as different in any way that deserves discrimination in terms of civil rights."
"I’ve been given this opportunity to play a part and it seemed too great to pass up," he added.
Although ERW officials have mentioned the polling and outreach-and eventual education program--they’ve yet to explain the campaign they will launch in order to achieve marriage equality. The reason, say officials, is that they don’t want to announce anything until they have a sound and solid campaign that is ready to take on-and win-conservative support outside of the Seattle-area.
In addition, there isn’t any one way to achieve marriage equality in Washington. It is possible through the courts, in the legislature or by popular vote. Only time will tell which of the three wins out. Still, ERW says they are going for it, and they need the community’s help.
"This is a great time to get engaged," said Hearne. "We hope that you would help ERW engage not only you, but that you help engage the state for marriage equality."