Michele Kessler, International Chair of OUTreach, the LGBTQ constituency group of the United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), today released the following statement in response to the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.
“Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling means a nationwide victory to the decades-long marriage equality movement and secures dignity for every family in America. As the LGBTQ constituency group for our UFCW family, we support not just the right of all people to marry the person they love, but also equal rights when it comes to employment and other policies.
While we celebrate the victory of marriage equality, we still have a lot of work to do before LGBTQ people have true equality and are free of discrimination. Right now in the 29 states, it is legal to be fired for being gay or transgender. This latest decision could put a great number of newly married couples at risk of losing their jobs. This also means that although a couple is married, LGBTQ workers’ partners and families can be unfairly excluded from workplace policies and benefits.
Right now the only way LGBTQ workers can get real protection from these indignities is through a union contract. Working together and negotiating a union contract ensures that no union member is fired because of someone else’s prejudices. Union contracts have set the precedence for worker protections when so many other workplaces fall short or have none at all. These protections ensure that workers keep their job regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity, can use the bathroom of their choosing, and use their leave and health benefits to care for family members.
Following today’s historic decision, we must now harness the momentum from this victory and continue the work of securing additional advances towards equality, especially nondiscrimination protections for all LGBTQ Americans. Members of OUTreach and the UFCW are proud to play a part in the growing momentum towards equality for all workers across America.