Results tagged “marriage equality”

Economic Equality, Marriage Edition

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Activists packed the sidewalks -- and the street -- outside the Supreme Court this morning as the nation's highest court prepared to hear two landmark cases that address marriage equality.

SEIU joined unions and grassroots leaders, families and activists in the United for Marriage coalition to tell the Supreme Court and all those watching that we stand for marriage equality. As the first international union to endorse marriage equality, SEIU is committed to defending all workers' rights to love whomever they choose.

For a rally recap: We live tweeted all the action from @SEIU.

Tuesday: DC Rally For Marriage Equality

MarriageEquality-lgbt-SCOTUS.jpgThis week, the Supreme Court is hearing two cases that challenge whether same-sex couples should have the same freedoms as everyone else. It's a major stage in a debate, challenging laws that deny loving, committed couples the same access to healthcare, Social Security and other protections that working families rely on for economic security.

SEIU and more than 100 organizations, grassroots leaders, and families in the United for Marriage coalition will be rallying in front of the Supreme Court tomorrow to make it clear to the Court--and all those watching--that we stand for equality.

This is a crucial moment in our country's history. For years, we've been waging a battle to ensure equal rights for everyone living on America's shores. From voting rights to civil rights to reproductive rights, we have always struggled together and overcome together.

And the struggle for marriage equality is no different. Those who want to uphold the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and California's Proposition 8 only seek to divide us with the same rhetoric they've used against immigrants, the middle class, women's health and the LGBT community.

President Obama comes out in support of marriage equality

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Today, Barack Obama became the first sitting president to come out in support of same-sex marriage and extending the rights and responsibilities of marriage to all citizens, regardless of their sexuality.

He joins many of us - SEIU included - who have long supported marriage equality and the right of all families to receive the benefits of equal protection under the law. Back in 2004, our union made winning equal rights and benefits for all our members a priority in bargaining and legislative campaigns. We were also the first international union to endorse marriage equality.

Chelsea Clinton

PHOTO: Chelsea Clinton. CREDIT: Natalie Maynor

Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton joined more than 50 New Yorkers United for Marriage volunteers to work the phone banks for marriage equality at 1199SEIU's New York Headquarters.

The event hosted by 1199SEIU kicked off what will be twice-weekly phone banks calling supporters across all districts in an effort to pass a marriage equality bill for all New Yorkers by the end of the 2011 legislative session. New York would be the sixth state to pass same-sex marriage legislation.

More at Human Rights Campaign and The Advocate.

Read what SEIU President Mary Kay Henry writes about marriage equality and the labor movement here.

VIDEO: Mary Kay Henry to LGBT youth: "It gets better"

SEIU President Mary Kay Henry taped a special message to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) youth as part of the "It Gets Better" campaign.

"You have an army of people that are prepared to support you no matter what until we pass equal rights into law all across this country," said Henry in her message.

The It Gets Better campaign was launched to provide support for LGBT youth who can't picture what their lives might be like as openly gay adults and to show LGBT youth, who often feel alone and isolated, that they have millions of openly gay adults supporting them.

 » View additional videos.

 » Send your own video message.

SEIU members are uniting across the country to ensure It Gets Better by winning equality for all workers and justice for every working family.

Recognizing Same-Sex Marriage is a Union Issue

SEIU was the first union in the country to take a stand during the presidential elections when members passed a marriage equality resolution declaring: "SEIU will support the right of same-sex couples to access the full and equal rights, responsibilities, and commitments of civil marriage and oppose laws and constitutional amendments that deny that right." And SEIU members have been actively involved in state and local efforts to win marriage equality for all.

Establishing and Expanding Domestic Partner Benefits

SEIU members have fought for and won contracts that extend healthcare coverage to both same-sex and heterosexual partners and their partner's children. SEIU members have also won parity for domestic partners in family leave policies, including paternity, family emergency, and bereavement leave.

Building Community Strength Together

As board members, volunteers, donors and allies, SEIU members and staff have built meaningful partnerships with LGBT political, community and advocacy groups and leaders. SEIU is an active supporter of the Human Rights Campaign, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, the Gay and Lesbian Victory Fund, Stonewall Democrats, and countless other national and local organizations committed to equality.

Promoting Diversity Across Our Union

From openly gay International President Mary Kay Henry to several openly gay local presidents and executive board members to the dozens of openly gay staff members, SEIU promotes and values diversity at all levels of our union. And SEIU's gay and lesbian Lavender Caucus provides a voice for SEIU members to make equality a central part of our union's work.

Friends and allies of SEIU are celebrating Pride month in a special way this year: Joining with home care workers in Fresno to protect their union and to keep their union voice strong in SEIU UHW.

The volunteer effort by SEIU allies for SEIU UHW caregivers follows outspoken support by the union for the rights and freedoms of LGBT people, including marriage equality. SEIU locals throughout California opposed Proposition 8, a statewide measure attacking marriage equality, and denounced a state court ruling last week upholding the measure.

SEIU members from Nevada lobby Sen. Reid
Kevin Xiong, director of SOY, a non-profit GLBT organization in the Twin Cities, knocked on doors in Fresno with volunteer Bao Thao.
Bao Thao drove from San Diego to volunteer time and meet with SEIU UHW home care members in Fresno. "Unions must keep supporting all people so we avoid such discrimination as Prop 8," she said. "SEIU has provided that support, and so I'm here to support these members."

Kevin Xiong, executive director of SOY (Shades of Yellow), a nonprofit LGBT organization in Minnesota, also volunteered his time to knock on doors in Fresno and support SEIU UHW members. "By going door to door, we are seeking to correct deliberate efforts to set the union off course and sap its strength to meet the struggles that only a large, experienced union like SEIU UHW can win. Home care workers in Fresno are passionate about their union and understand the need to stick together," he said.

Xiong joined many Californians in criticizing the negative signal he saw in the state ruling on Prop 8. "This is a civil rights issue," he said, "dividing people in two classes, those who can marry with benefits and those who cannot." He described the ruling as undercutting the rights of same-sex couples who hoped to marry in the future by denying their committed unions equal recognition under state law. "SEIU UHW continues to fight this upcoming vote to weaken its union," said Xiong.

The theme of legal recognition for families is at the heart of SEIU's support for legislation crucial to many LGBT couples, the Reuniting Families Act. The House bill, introduced yesterday by California Congressman Mike Honda, includes same-sex partners in its scope.

FreedomToMarry.jpgLess than five months after the California Supreme Court recognized the ability of same-sex couples to wed legally as a fundamental right, the 2008 state ballot measure ended this ability. In a disappointing decision, the California Supreme Court announced on Tuesday that they are upholding the ban on same-sex marriage enacted by 52.3 percent of voters in November.

SEIU is an organization that stands for fairness and equality for working people not only in the workplace, but in all aspects of society. Five years ago at our International Convention in 2004, SEIU made winning equal rights and benefits for all our members a priority in bargaining and legislative campaigns at every level of our union, and passed a resolution supporting marriage equality. SEIU International Executive VP Mary Kay Henry, a founding member of SEIU's Lavender Caucus, had this to say after the Court's ruling:

"Equality is a value dear to our union's members. We opposed Prop 8 and the forces of division and discrimination who produced it. This ruling merely delays the day of regaining an important aspect of equality in California. It does not diminish the dignity of our members and their relationships or our determination to win equality in this country."
The issues of marriage equality and nondiscrimination that are at the heart of this movement are part of a much larger notion of freedom and equality for all. In January, SEIU and more than 50 other labor unions signed on to an amicus brief to urge the CA high court to overturn Proposition 8. "If a simple majority of voters can take away one fundamental right, it can take away another," read the labor coalitions' brief. "If it can deprive one class of citizens of their rights, it can deprive another class too. Today it is gays and lesbians who are singled out. Tomorrow it could be trade unionists."

The 6-1 decision written by Chief Justice Ron George will allow to stand the 18,000 marriages that committed same-sex couples celebrated in California in 2008. We must assist in future drives to secure and defend marriage equality, an indispensable form of equal protection. Same-sex marriage is legal in Iowa, Maine, Vermont, Massachusetts and Connecticut--and the fight for equality in California must not stop with today's ruling. Join the movement to repeal Prop. 8 and sign the pledge.

SEIU's Mary Kay Henry: "Equality is a Labor Value"

The 12th annual Freedom to Marry Week is being celebrated right now (February 8 - 14) in cities across the nation, and asking supporters to do one thing for marriage equality: talk.

Mary Kay Henry in Boston

SEIU's Mary Kay Henry

This year's theme to raise awareness is "7 Conversations in 7 Days," encouraging people to begin talking openly about marriage equality, its context within the social justice movement, and why it is so important that we end discrimination in marriage for lesbian and gay couples. SEIU's Mary Kay Henry writes about what this movement means to her personally and to the labor movement on Freedom to Marry's blog today, Straight Talk on Marriage.

Read it below.

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