Marriage Equality Rhode Island’s Executive Director Abruptly Resigns
Marriage Equality Rhode Island announced the resignation of its executive director on Tuesday, April 26.
MERI’s Board of Directors accepted Kathy Kushnir’s resignation on Monday, April 25, after nearly three years in the position. Her resignation is effective on May 11.
"I leave Marriage Equality Rhode Island with a great sense of pride and satisfaction knowing we have moved this critical debate forward," said Kushnir in a statement. "I have every confidence marriage equality will be achieved this year for all Rhode Islanders. The organization is stronger than it has ever been and I am able to step down now, without regret, knowing the capabilities and organizational strength that is now in place. I want to thank the Board for the incredible opportunity to lead this organization."
Martha Holt, chair of MERI’s Board of Directors, issued her own statement.
"Although she will be missed, our mission remains to achieve full marriage equality for same-sex couples in Rhode Island this year," she said. "Anything less is unacceptable and we remain confident of achieving our goal. We wish her the best of luck in future endeavors."
MERI has been leading the fight to secure marriage rights for same-sex couples in the Ocean State for the past eight years. Despite support from Gov. Lincoln Chafee and House Speaker Gordon Fox (D-Providence), lawmakers have yet to vote on either of the marriage bills that were introduced in both the House and state Senate.
Committees held hearings on the measures earlier this year, and activists remain optimistic that a marriage vote will take place before the current legislative session ends in June. "Nothing will stop an eventual victory on this issue," said activist Kate Monteiro.
Kushnir’s resignation comes less than a week after Morgan Menenses-Sheets, former executive director at Equality Maryland, announced she is no longer with the organization. Her departure came after a marriage equality bill and a measure that would have added gender identity and expression to Maryland’s anti-discrimination law failed to make it out of the state’s General Assembly.
It remains unclear as to what prompted Kushnir to resign, and she did not immediately respond to EDGE’s request for comment.
Monteiro believes, however, that Kushnir’s departure from MERI will have no effect on the push for marriage equality in Rhode Island.
"Marriage equality isn’t dead," she noted. "It isn’t even wounded. I doubt the actual organizing work at MERI will even skip a beat today."