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Empire State Pride Agenda head resigns

by Michael K. Lavers
National News Editor
Wednesday Jan 27, 2010
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Nearly two months after the New York State Senate struck down a measure that would have allowed same-sex couples to marry, the head of the state’s largest LGBT rights organization has stepped down.

The Empire State Pride Agenda announced Alan Van Capelle’s resignation earlier this morning. He has accepted a position as Deputy Comptroller for External Affairs in New York City Comptroller John Liu’s office.

"It has been an opportunity of a lifetime to work for the Empire State Pride Agenda over the past seven years," Van Capelle said in a statement. "The amazing volunteer boards, the talented staff, our many dedicated supporters, the statewide community and all of our allies, in elected office and elsewhere, have been a tremendous inspiration. I will always treasure that the Pride Agenda entrusted me with the responsibility to advance our community’s agenda in New York and I look forward to supporting the Pride Agenda’s work in the years ahead."

Van Capelle, 34, took the helm of the Pride Agenda in 2003.

The organization’s profile within state politics has grown in recent years--as evidenced by U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s endorsement of marriage for same-sex couples last January ahead of Gov. David Paterson’s decision to appoint her as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s successor on Capitol Hill. Some observers, however, have tried to connect Van Capelle’s departure to the failed marriage vote on Dec. 2.

Others have also noted Van Capelle will work alongside former New York City Councilmember Simcha Felder, who cited religious reasons for his decision to not vote for then-colleague Christine Quinn during her 2006 speaker campaign. The Brooklyn lawmaker also opposed a transgender rights bill and other LGBT-specific measures during his City Council tenure.

The Pride Agenda did not immediately return calls seeking comment, but Van Capelle will remain its executive director until the end of February. Joe Tarver will remain the organization’s interim executive director until a permanent successor is found.

Based in Washington, D.C., Michael K. Lavers has appeared in the New York Times, BBC, WNYC, Huffington Post, Village Voice, Advocate and other mainstream and LGBT media outlets. He is an unapologetic political junkie who thoroughly enjoys living inside the Beltway.

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