Alex Blaze

Marriage is a labor issue

Filed By Alex Blaze | August 02, 2007 9:39 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: AFL-CIO, Jeremy Bishop, labor, marriage, presidential debates, Pride at Work

(This guest post comes to us from Jeremy Bishop, executive director of Pride at Work, the LGBTQueer AFL-CIO constituency group. Please take a moment to vote for his question so that it's asked at the AFL-CIO Presidential Debate. ~a.b.)

This coming Tuesday, in Chicago, the AFL-CIO will be hosting the first in what will no likely be a series of Presidential Debates for union members. Originally, the AFL-CIO was only expecting about a thousand attendees, but the response as been so large that the venue has been moved to Soldier Field, home of the Chicago Bears, to accommodate the 15,000 union members that are expected to attend the event.

To develop questions, the AFL-CIO has asked union members to submit questions they would like asked. In return, the AFL-CIO is asking union members to vote on their top questions they would like to see asked and answered. Pride At Work, the organization that represents lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender working people, submitted several questions, but one has made it into the top ten final questions that may be asked.

The question regards marriage equality and an end to marriage discrimination in this country. As LGBT folks, we understand that our lack of access to the institution of marriage is fundamentally a worker issue. For this reason, I'm asking that you take a quick moment and vote for Pride At Work's question regarding marriage discrimination so that it will be asked in front of 15,000 union members live and millions more on MSNBC. Vote here.

Example after example abounds that shows just why marriage is a labor issue. For example, recently a UPS workers' partner in New Jersey was denied health benefits, even after they had a civil union, because it didn't match the company's definition of "spouse." We know this isn't a random occurrence, it happens everyday, and it is a concrete example of how we do not receive equal pay for equal work.

About every month, presidential campaigns trot into the AFL-CIO to do their dog and pony shows about why unions should support their candidacy. At every opportunity, I have made sure to ask them about their stand on ending marriage discrimination. I must admit, I love watching them squirm. Sure, they think they'll get these questions at the HRC/Logo debate, but they never think they will get them in the house of labor.

At every opportunity we have, we must continue to demand they support and end to marriage discrimination. Pride At Work is doing our part to educate our union brothers and sisters. While union density in this country is on the decline, in the 2006 election, union households made up 26% of the vote. That's right, 26%. We have a real opportunity to educate working people to the reality of our lives and the discrimination we face on a daily basis. These are working folks who understand the bedrock union principles of equal pay for equal work, and
an injury to one is an injury to all.

However, if we don't engage them in conversation, they won't know the inequality we face. We have a real opportunity to finally frame the issue of marriage discrimination, in its proper context, as a working persons' issue.

So take a second out of your day and place a vote for Pride At Work's question on marriage equality. We won't ask you for your contact information and we won't ask you for a donation. All we ask is for you to make one click and move on with your daily lives- that one click can help us frame an issue in the light it so deserves.


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