Non-profit

Freedom to Marry Action

Location:

NEW YORK, NY

Tax ID:

90-0554218

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(4)

Budget (2015):

Revenue: $435,651
Expenses: $1,798,572
Assets: $1,804,051

Disbanded:

2016

Freedom to Marry Action (FTM Action) was a lobbying organization associated with Freedom to Marry, which advocated for securing state recognition and normalization of same-sex marriage across the United States. From 2011 to 2015, FTM Action spent more than $1.6 million lobbying for same-sex marriage. [1] [2]

The organization targeted both Democratic and Republican lawmakers and hired lobbyists with both left-of-center and right-of-center backgrounds in order to create bipartisan support. [3] The organization was disbanded in 2016 after the Supreme Court in 2015 struck down laws prohibiting state recognition of same-sex marriages in Obergefell v. Hodges. [4]

Activities

Prior to the Obergefell ruling, Freedom to Marry Action was active in both state and federal politics. In 2012, the group donated $100,000 to a Washington state ballot measure campaign to affirm state recognition of same-sex marriages, joining major left-of-center institutions such as the Service Employees International Union, as well as corporate executives Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer of Microsoft and Jeff Bezos of Amazon, in the effort. The following year, FTM Action hired career Republican-aligned lobbyist Kathryn Lehman to pressure right-of-center members of Congress to support same-sex marriage and repeal federal legislation disfavoring it, most notably the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). [5] [6]

Lehman claims credit for helping repeal the law and touts her extensive work with the Freedom to Marry network on same-sex marriage alongside her career as a Republican staffer and lobbyist. [7]

Parent Organization

Freedom to Marry was launched by lawyer and long-time activist Evan Wolfson with support from the Evelyn and Walter Haas Jr. Fund, a prominent left-of-center grant making institution. By 2005, it was receiving strategic guidance from the American Civil Liberties Union and other legal activist groups. From its inception to the successful conclusion of the same-sex marriage movement in 2015, Freedom to Marry received financial backing from major corporations such as the broadcasting conglomerate Comcast and the sportswear giant Nike, as well as dozens of influential left-of-center philanthropic institutions. These included the Arcus Foundation, founded by left-of-center billionaire philanthropist Jon Stryker, the Proteus Fund, and the Open Society Network of billionaire activist financier George Soros. The organization was also able to secure the support of Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, the daughter and son-in-law of soon-to-be President Donald Trump, as well as Republican Party mega-donors Peter Thiel and Paul Singer of the Paul Singer Family Foundation. [8]

Leadership

Anne Stanback was chair of Freedom to Marry Action. A longtime LGBT-interests activist, she is in the Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame for both her LGBT work and her work as executive director for the Connecticut chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice America (formerly known as the National Abortion Rights Action League). [9] She is also involved with transgender-interests activism as director of state and national partnerships for the Equality Federation. [10]

Evan Wolfson was the founder and president of Freedom to Marry, and president of FTM Action. Throughout his career as a left-of-center activist lawyer, he was involved numerous cases related to LGBT issues, including the 1993 Hawaii same-sex marriage case, the unsuccessful attempt to compel the Boy Scouts of America into accepting gay members in 2000, and Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. Since then, he has worked as a consultant to other left-of-center activist groups. He also manages the Freedom to Marry Global fund at Tides Advocacy, where he and other Freedom to Marry alumni push for the recognition of same-sex marriages by foreign countries. [11]

Financials

In 2016, Freedom to Marry Action donated more than $1.3 million to various LGBT advocacy organizations. The only donation which was not to an explicit LGBT activist organization was to Georgetown University and totaled $500,000. It was the largest donation FTM Action made that year. [12]

References

  1. “Freedom to Marry Action.” OpenSecrets. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.opensecrets.org/federal-lobbying/clients/summary?id=D000064748 ^
  2. “Freedom To Marry Inc.” ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer. Accessed July 22, 2022. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/800544853 ^
  3. Catherine Ho. “Freedom to Marry lobbies to repeal DOMA.” Washington Post. February 17, 2013. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/nike-fights-to-lower-duties-on-foreign-made-shoes-freedom-to-marry-lobbies-to-repeal-doma/2013/02/15/d417750a-7496-11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_story.html ^
  4. Freedom To Marry Inc. Return of an Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990). 2016. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/800544853 ^
  5. Jim Camden. “Amazon’s Bezos boosts R-74.” The Spokesman-Review. July 28, 2012. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2012/jul/28/amazons-bezos-boosts-r-74/ ^
  6. Catherine Ho. “Freedom to Marry lobbies to repeal DOMA.” Washington Post. February 17, 2013. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.washingtonpost.com/business/capitalbusiness/nike-fights-to-lower-duties-on-foreign-made-shoes-freedom-to-marry-lobbies-to-repeal-doma/2013/02/15/d417750a-7496-11e2-95e4-6148e45d7adb_story.html ^
  7. “Kathryn Hazeem Lehman.” Holland & Knight. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.hklaw.com/en/professionals/l/lehman-kathryn-hazeem ^
  8. “Thank You to Our Amazing Donors.” Freedom to Marry. Accessed July 22, 2022. http://www.freedomtomarry.org/pages/Major-Donors ^
  9. Freedom to Marry, Board Member Spotlight: Anna Stanback. Freedom to Marry. December 23, 2012. Accessed July 25, 2022. http://www.freedomtomarry.org/blog/entry/board-member-spotlight-anne-stanback ^
  10. Rebecca Isaacs, “The Federation welcomes Anne Stanback as director of state and national partnerships.” Equality Federation. September 21, 2022. Accessed July 25, 2022. https://www.equalityfederation.org/post/the-federation-welcomes-anne-stanback-as-director-of-state-and-national-partnerships ^
  11. “Evan Wolfson.” Freedom to Marry. Accessed July 22, 2022. http://www.freedomtomarry.org/the-team/entry/Evan-Wolfson ^
  12. Freedom To Marry Inc. Return of an Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990). 2016. https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/900554218/201731299349302363/full ^

Directors, Employees & Supporters

  1. Sean Eldridge
    Former Political Director
  See an error? Let us know!

Nonprofit Information


Available Filings

Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
2015 Dec Form 990 $435,651 $1,798,572 $1,804,051 $13,600 N $434,499 $0 $1,152 $12,376 PDF
2014 Dec Form 990 $2,847,306 $999,224 $3,204,014 $50,642 N $2,846,318 $0 $988 $23,243 PDF
2013 Dec Form 990 $4,031,144 $3,282,870 $1,376,224 $70,934 N $3,884,213 $0 $744 $54,456 PDF
2012 Dec Form 990 $4,607,877 $4,615,812 $629,042 $72,026 N $3,997,501 $0 $631 $26,930 PDF
2011 Dec Form 990 $2,150,099 $1,747,341 $572,996 $8,045 N $2,139,770 $0 $0 $19,389 PDF

Additional Filings (PDFs)

Freedom to Marry Action

1221 Avenue of the Americas
NEW YORK, NY