The presidents of two large unions and a labor federation moved quickly to laud President Obama's support for marriage equality.
"Working people believe in equality and fairness," according to AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, "and that's why we are happy to stand with ... President Obama in supporting marriage equality":
LGBT working people face numerous inequities in the workplace and in society as they struggle to care for their families. Civil unions do not guarantee the 1,138 rights, benefits and responsibilities that are triggered by the word "marriage” under federal law."The president's support comes at a critical moment as the rights of LGBT people are under legislative attack" in several states, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement,
Most important, we should respect and honor our friends, neighbors, and family members who want to take care of their families and their loved ones – whatever their sexual orientation. We are proud to come together for a more just America.
[...] but the growing numbers of Americans who believe in marriage equality reminds us that we cannot live up to our promise as a nation until we extend equal rights to all.Noting that "Nearly ten years ago, CWA convention delegates called for full and equal rights including civil marriage," Communications Workers of America President Larry Cohen said that his union "stands with the President and those who support equality and human rights."
To those who have chosen to stand on the wrong side of history, we say this: There is growing momentum for equality in this country. And with each American that believes in equality, we are reminded that the continued dream of equality is our birthright, our heritage and our promise.
For anyone who counts equality among the basic tenets of a free and just America, Pres. Obama's announcement today is a victory.
As Cohen's statement makes clear, many unions have supported marriage equality for years, with unions recently involved in the fight for marriage equality in Maryland and elsewhere.
3:45 PM PT: United Food and Commercial Workers President Joe Hansen commends President Obama for his statement, and points to the ways that the UFCW supports equal rights on the job, including that:
...our union is a strong supporter of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) which would ensure justice in the workplace for LGBT workers. UFCW members have been negotiating equal health care coverage for same-sex couples into their union contracts all over the country for years.
7:50 PM PT: More statements: The president and secretary-treasurer of AFSCME, Gerald McEntee and Lee Saunders weigh in, as does American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten, specifically citing her support for President Obama's statement "As president of the AFT and as a gay American."