In our regular weekly feature, we’ll be taking a look at the winners and losers of the week in the struggle for the rights of working families. The winners will be the persons or organizations that go above and beyond to expand or protect the rights of working families, while the losers will be whoever went above and beyond to limit or deny those rights.
On Wednesday, the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in a 5–4 ruling, a big step toward equality for LGBT families. But now that part of the discriminatory law has been ruled unconstitutional, what does it mean for same-sex couples? Lambda Legal has a thorough guide to the legal ramifications of the ruling.
This week, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing arguments in cases that could lead to marriage equality for same-sex couples, an issue of particular importance to working families and America's union members.
"Working people believe in equality and fairness and that’s why we are happy to stand with millions of Americans and with President Obama in supporting marriage equality," said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka in a statement. "LGBT working people face numerous inequities in the workplace and in society as they struggle to care for their families."
Here’s a look at a number of other key working-family races and ballot issues from yesterday’s elections.
In several U.S. Senate races where Republican, corporate and super PAC cash looked like it would make the difference, union members’ get-out-the-vote activism and votes helped push working-family candidates to victory. Democrats now have 55 senate seats. Elizabeth Warren defeated Sen. Scott Brown in Massachusetts. Tim Kaine beat George Allen in Virginia. Rep. Tammy Baldwin overcame Tommy Thompson in Wisconsin, Sen. Jon Tester defeated challenger Rep. Denny Rehberg in Montana and Sen. Sherrod Brown won over Josh Mandel in Ohio. Other Senate wins include Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.).
The AFL-CIO today filed a “friend of the court" brief asking the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to uphold a lower court’s ruling that the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is unconstitutional. The 1996 law denies federal benefits to same-sex couples. In the brief, filed along with Change to Win (CTW) and the National Education Association (NEA), the three union groups say:
The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), by intention and design, ensures that workers with same-sex spouses earn less money, are taxed more on their wages and benefits, and have available to them fewer valuable benefits and less economic security than their counterparts with different-sex spouses.
Thursday, I reported that several major labor unions expressed support for Barack Obama's statement that he supports the right of all Americans to marry, regardless of their sexual orientation. More unions expressed their support for the president and marriage equality in a move that, as I pointed out yesterday, is good for Obama, for unions and for LGBT Americans.
In the wake of President Barack Obama's announced public support for marriage equality, a number of major labor unions have come out in support of the president's position and equality for the LGBT community. This is a great development for a number of reasons. One, it's a clear statement from unions that they recognize that LGBT families are working families, too. Two, it gives Obama strong public support on an issue that he is certain to be attacked on. Third, it is a good way to attract new people to the labor movement who might have otherwise not paid much attention to unions because they had other issues that were more important to them. If it is clear that unions support LGBT families -- which it is -- there is more reason for people to move out of issue silos, recognizing that they have allies they can work together with to improve everybody's situation.