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Yesterday, I reported that several major labor unions expressed support for Barack Obama's statement that he supports the right of all Americans to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation. More unions expressed their support for the president and marriage equality in a move that, as I pointed out yesterday, is good for Obama, for unions and for LGBT Americans:
This is a great development for a number of reasons. One, it's a clear statement from unions that they recognize that LGBT families are working families, too. Two, it gives Obama strong public support on an issue that he is certain to be attacked on. Third, it is a good way to attract new people to the labor movement who might have otherwise not paid much attention to unions because they had other issues that were more important to them. If it is clear that unions support LGBT families -- which it is -- there is more reason for people to move out of issue silos, recognizing that they have allies they can work together with to improve everybody's situation.
UNITE HERE President John Wilhelm (via press release):
We applaud President Obama's statement in support of marriage equality. Our members support full equality for LGBT Americans in all matters governed by civil law, and we are grateful for the President's
courage and leadership. Today the United States took an important step towards fulfilling the Constitution's promise of equal protection under the law. UNITE HERE stands with working families of all descriptions in the ongoing struggle for social and economic justice.
I am proud that UNITE HERE is on the side of justice for the LGBT community. Thanks, and congratulations on this important step, to all those in our Union who work to achieve full equality for our LGBT members, and for all our members. I have been especially grateful that Cleve Jones, a life-long warrior for equality, has become such an important leader in UNITE HERE. President Obama’s announcement is an important step. The struggle continues.
United Auto Workers President Bob King:
“The UAW applauds President Obama’s remarks on same-sex marriage, and we regard it as a historic and courageous leap toward equality for all Americans.
We oppose all discrimination and believe there is a definite connection between civil, human and workers’ rights. This belief continues to define us today.
Solidarity means economic and social justice for all, regardless of race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. This commitment to civil and human rights for all helped fuel many early UAW organizing victories. The UAW helped organize African-American workers during the 1930s when companies used race as a divisive anti-union strategy. In 1955 we were the first industrial union to establish a Women’s Department, its mission to encourage female participation in the predominantly male UAW – and to ensure that a woman’s place was in her union. We were arm in arm with the civil rights movement in the 1950s and ‘60s.
The ongoing struggle for civil and human rights for everyone – including LGBT Americans – cannot be separated from the fight for justice for all workers. That’s something the UAW has known from the start.”
Today, Veda Shook, International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA), sent a letter to President Obama commending him for his support of marriage equality. AFA has been a longstanding supporter of equal rights for all, as evidenced in 1976 when the union’s Board of Directors amended its by-laws to include the following objective: “To unite all Flight Cabin Crew members regardless of race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation or nationality.” In addition, in 2006, the AFA Board of Directors unanimously adopted a resolution in support of marriage equality.
AFA is a leading advocate for the Flight Attendant profession and is proud to be part of labor’s decades-long tradition of standing up for fair and equal treatment for all workers. We support marriage equality for our lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) sisters and brothers. Marriage equality is not only an economic and social justice issue, but also a human rights issue.
American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten:
“Today President Obama took the right and just position on marriage equality. As president of the AFT and as a gay American, I strongly support President Obama for his bold action.
“America’s greatness has been based in large part on our continual journey toward equality. President Obama’s action today on marriage equality continues that journey. I am proud to lead an organization that has, from our founding, stood firm against discrimination based on race, ethnicity, gender, physical disability or sexual orientation. The fight for civil rights not only in the workforce but also in every aspect of American life, is ongoing. Every American is entitled to equal shares of equality, liberty and happiness.”
Pride at Work applauds President Obama’s groundbreaking and moving statement today in support of marriage equality.
Relationship recognition matters for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers as a basic union issue, an economic justice issue and as a social justice issue. Thank you, President Obama, for standing up for justice and standing in solidarity with the LGBT community.
Same-sex couples take a unique financial hit because their relationships aren't recognized under federal law due to DOMA; and they have less ability to care for and support their families in times of need. The right to equal pay and benefits for equal work is a fundamental component of labor struggles, as is the ability to work and support one’s family with dignity and respect.
The ability of leaders and average citizens alike to have thoughtful conversation, to listen, and develop their views is part of how change happens. We appreciate President Obama for having the grace and dignity to engage in real dialogue and ultimately stand in support of the LGBT community on the issue of marriage equality. We look forward to continuing those conversations this year and beyond on other key issues, particularly with the vital need to prohibit employment discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.
The President's groundbreaking statement today follows on the heels of a track record of actions that have made a real difference in the lives of LGBT workers and their families, including:
Hospital visitation & decision making rights for gay and lesbian couples Repeal of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" Enactment of the Affordable Care Act, expanding access to health care Signing the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr Hate Crimes Prevention Act Ensuring Transgender Americans can get their true passport regardless of surgery status Ended discrimination against LGBT people in federal housing
We have more work to do. Today, President Obama showed true leadership, and this country took a vital step forward in the march for equality and justice for all people.