LOS ANGELES – Eric Harrison is on a mission to achieve marriage equality and he won’t stop until he gets it. Now the 34-year old Los Angeles resident just landed a job that will allow him to focus 100% percent of his time fighting for that goal.
Love Honor Cherish, an L.A.-based group that has been working since 2008 to restore marriage equality in the state, announced last week that it is has hired Harrison as its interim executive director. The formerly all-volunteer organization brought Harrison on board at a time when other organizations that are fighting for marriage equality, namely Equality California (EQCA), are experiencing internal struggles over ideology, leadership and fundraising.
Harrison recently departed his job as EQCA’s statewide development director to accept the role at Love Honor Cherish. When asked why he left EQCA, considered the state’s largest LGBT rights advocacy organization, Harrison said that it seemed like the right time for him to make the move.
“I’ve been fighting for marriage equality since 2009, and when I got on board with EQCA I was so inspired by the leadership of [then-executive director] Geoff Kors,” Harrison said. “Since then, the board has decided to take a different stance and it is now a time of transition for EQCA.”
Harrison said EQCA now has an opportunity to focus on rebuilding its leadership, especially since he knows that those involved with the organization are still passionate about its work. He said Love Honor Cherish has been a longtime coalition partner with EQCA and believes it is important that the two organizations continue to work together.
“I think it’s critical that EQCA and Love Honor Cherish work together,” Harrison said. “We only have a very small window of time right now in which we can not wait for marriage equality. During its transition period, I think it’s critical that EQCA give any resources it has to Love Honor Cherish because we are complete focused [on marriage equality].”
Harrison said EQCA has been on the front lines of winning marriage back in 2012, but there is still a lot of pain within and targeted at the organization over losing. “We need to ignite this movement again,” Harrison said.
Because he believes that Love Honor Cherish is positioned to be at the forefront of the fight for marriage equality in California, Harrison said was drawn to the organization. “I think [my mission] was apparent [to the board] when I was given this opportunity,” he said.
Tom Watson, Love Honor Cherish board chair, said Harrison is the right person for the job.
Eric is smart, talented and shares Love Honor Cherish's goal of achieving real equality now,” Watson said. “We're bringing Eric on to build up our organization, to expand our work for marriage equality, and to reignite our movement. I am extremely excited by Eric's joining us.”
At the time of this interview, Harrison was only three days into his new job. His first orders of business are to take over the day-to-day operations of the organization, continue affecting the landscape of what it looks like to get full marriage equality in California, and continue cultivating donors to support the work of Love Honor Cherish.
“We have very significant pledges from major donors,” Harrison said. “We just need that brave individual to step forward and write that first check. We are doing a lot of prospecting and building relationships with former board and staff members of EQCA.”
Harrison had a proven track record at EQCA, which included organizing the Palm Springs Equality Awards in October, which brought in $300,000 to the organization’s coffers.
As for how to regain marriage equality in 2012? The organization has ideas, Harrison said, but they are not set yet. “Love Honor Cherish does not have a position on collecting signatures [for the 2012 ballot] at this time,” Harrison said.
He does believe, however, that there is a great opportunity within the millennial generation, aka Generation Y, born between 1978 and 2000.
“The younger generation is all about going back to fight for marriage equality, I have heard. The outpouring of support from my straight friends is particularly encouraging,” Harrison said. “In order to be really successful, we need to figure out who is really behind marriage equality.”
Love Honor Cherish’s singular mission is to restore marriage equality in the state of California in 2012. For more information or to get involved with their work, click HERE.