Contact: Mario Cilento, NYS AFL-CIO, 914-261-4356
Carolyn Daly, RWDSU, 917-705-4740
NEW YORK, May 25, 2011 -- Prominent citywide and state labor leaders rallied their powerful support today for speedy and necessary passage of a marriage equality bill by the New York State legislature before the 2011 session ends.
New York State AFL-CIO President Denis Hughes kicked off a press conference on the steps of City Hall with RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum, UFT President Michael Mulgrew, Teamsters Local 237 President Gregory Floyd, Eastern Regional Vice-President of Actors’ Equity Association (and former Miss America) Kate Shindle, and affiliates of the New York City Central Labor Council as the influential labor leaders called upon New York State legislators to enact and pass marriage equality legislation. The labor leaders were joined by Louis Bradbury, a co-chair of the Empire State Pride Agenda (ESPA), and the organization’s Executive Director Ross Levi. ESPA is New York's statewide lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization.
Resounding a message of “equal rights” for all, the leading labor figures stressed serious concerns for the future of social justice for all New Yorkers should the legislature fail to enact marriage equality. Citing a resolution adopted by delegates to the The New York State AFL-CIO Convention in 2008 stating the state labor federation’s “commitment to equal rights for all union members, including LGBT members,” the group raised serious concerns about “discrimination against same-sex couples” and relegation of them to “second-class citizenship.” The resolution concluded by calling upon “the New York State Legislature and Governor to enact a law providing marriage equality for all citizens.”
Denis Hughes, president of the 2 1/2 million member New York State AFL-CIO said "The New York State AFL-CIO supports equal access to legal marriage. We call upon our elected officials to enact legislation providing marriage equality for all citizens. The New York State AFL-CIO pledges to work aggressively to achieve this goal."
Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW said, "the labor movement stands proudly at the side of the LGBT community in the struggle for marriage equality because we understand that justice is indivisible. You cannot be for justice for some and not for all.”
"The time is now," said Gregory Floyd, president of the 23, 000 member Local 237 Teamsters. "This not the moment for more excuses, and more discussion in Albany. This the time for action. Pass the bill."
UFT President Michael Mulgrew said, “What could be a more basic human right than being able to marry whom you choose? The United Federation of Teachers reaffirms its support for full marriage equality for all.”
Kate Shindle, Eastern Regional Vice President for Actors’ Equity Association said, "It is preposterous that New York is still conferring second-class status upon any of its citizens--people who pay taxes, vote, and are expected to otherwise support the state and the cities in which they live. The vast majority of New Yorkers believe that all people are created equal; to win the battle against discrimination, we all need to pick up the phone and tell the Senators and Representatives who work for us that it's long past time for our gay friends to enjoy the same legal marriage rights that the rest of us take for granted."
“Unions understand social justice,” said Ross D. Levi, Executive Director of the Empire State Pride Agenda. “They are the defenders of the working families of our state, the people working hard every day simply to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Unions stand for fairness for all New Yorkers, of all backgrounds, and for ensuring that our society treats everyone with dignity and respect. We are honored to have our brothers and sisters from organized labor as partners in the fight to allow all loving, committed couples the ability to marry here in the Empire State.”
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