As Alan van Capelle Leaves Empire State Pride Agenda, Will His Legacy be a NY Marriage Defeat?

After New York’s ridiculous, and preventable, defeat of marriage equality in the State Senate in December, Empire State Pride Agenda executive director Alan van Capelle is leaving his post. Because they lost?

That’s not how he’s spinning it. Van Capelle, the well-liked veteran activist, is leaving his post to take up with incoming New York City Comptroller John Liu. (His deputy Joe Tarver takes over as interim director.) ESPA staffers found out about Van Capelle’s move at a staff meeting this morning; one insider tells us that “[while] it’s sad to see him go, it’s definitely time.”

As the organization’s longest serving executive director (he began in April 2003), Van Capelle has been hunting for marriage equality in New York State for years. But despite falling short on that front, ESPA has delivered much under his stewardship. Aside from increasing its budget threefold, the group helped push domestic partnership recognition — from spousal benefits to hospital visitation — through New York’s notoriously fractured legislature.

So what will be Van Capelle’s last breath of his ESPA legacy? Aside from helping at least put the marriage bill to a vote, so constituents could learn which senators to get rid of? Coming to the aid of Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand — and going on the assault against gay marriage flip-flopper Harold Ford Jr.

Get Queerty Daily

Subscribe to Queerty for a daily dose of #activism #activists #alanvancapelle stories and more


  • dontblamemeivotedforhillary

    He totally flamed out….No Urvashi Vaid!

  • Reality40

    Given the Pride Agenda’s ill-advised and disastrous (from the pro-same-sex marriage viewpoint) strategy of pushing same-sex marriage to a floor vote in the Senate last month without having the votes to pass it, it would seem that a parting of the ways with Mr. van Capelle would be more than appropriate from the organization’s perspective. If I were a same-sex marriage advocate and were on the board of ESPA, Alan van Capelle would have been history on December 3–the day after the Senate voted by a solid 38-24 margin to reject the proposed redefinition of marriage. If I were an ESPA donor, I would be asking some tough questions, like “You spent over a million dollars of our money on 2008 Senate races for THIS?” and “Why should I give you another cent?”

    After alienating the Senate GOP by openly (and successfully) funding the Democrats’ efforts to push them out of the majority in 2008, van Capelle proceeded to ruffle the feathers of Democrats through his brazen efforts to strong-arm a same-sex marriage floor vote and through his unprofessional and confrontational remarks at the ESPA Fall Dinner last year (see http://gaycitynews.com/articles/2009/10/29/gay_city_news/news/doc4ae13f6e95ad1802595878.txt and http://chelseanow.com/articles/2009/12/14/gay_city_news/news/doc4afb5d9d38c14698879493.txt). (Frankly, van Capelle’s comments at the Fall Dinner raise questions about his overall mental stability.) Incredibly, it appears that van Capelle even managed to end up on questionable terms with Sen. Tom Duane–the LGBT community’s lone representative in the Senate (http://www.freerepublic.com/focus/news/2401895/posts).

    Question: Now that Empire State Pride–under van Capelle’s leadership–has placed a bull’s eye on the back of the GOP and has strained its relationships with its allies in the Democratic caucus, where will they go next? And who will they get to pay the bill? Will any donors (or any legislators) trust the organization again after the Senate debacle last month and the scorched-earth tactics that led to that debacle?

    I certainly don’t envy Alan van Capelle’s successor.

  • terrwill

    oh well c’lave

  • disgusted

    I couldn’t agree more. Alan is an egomaniac who failed to accomplish anything meaningful in the last 7 years, other then building his own personal contact data base. He is not Matt Foreman that is for sure. He leaves behind a failed agenda but the good news is now that he is gone we have a real shot at restarting the LGBT movement in NY.

Comments are closed.