The executive board of the United Food and Commercial Workers 21—which promotes itself as "the largest private sector union in Washington with over 38,000 members working in grocery store, retail, health care, meat processing and other industry jobs"—announced today that it will advocate for same-sex couples' right to marry.
Anticipating that the state legislature will consider a marriage bill next year, UFCW 21 spokesman Tom Geiger said in a statement, "That legislation will have the strong support of UFCW 21... only marriage can provide gay and lesbian couples and their children legal rights that provide essential protections such as social security, spousal and survivor benefits."
A statement from Geiger is after the jump, along with an extremely measured exclamation of gratitude from Equal Rights Washington Marriage equality director Josh Friedes.
Here's UFCW's announcement:
The Executive Board of the UFCW 21 has voted to endorse marriage equality. UFCW 21 has become the 1st major union in Washington State to announce its support since New York became the sixth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to legally marry.
UFCW 21 has a long tradition of supporting equality and this is just the latest demonstration of that principle. UFCW 21 was a major coalition member in the Approve Referendum 71, which saved Washington State’s domestic partnership law from repeal. UFCW 21 has fought for and won same-sex partner rights for members in our collective bargaining agreements with regard to issues such as eligibility for health care coverage that are often only provided for a spouse.
In the 2012 legislative session, it is expected that a marriage equality piece of legislation will be introduced. That legislation will have the strong support of UFCW 21. Domestic partnerships were a giant step forward and provided working families with important protections. However, only marriage can provide gay and lesbian couples and their children legal rights that provide essential protections such as social security, spousal and survivor benefits.
UFCW 21 is the largest private sector union in Washington with over 38,000 members working in grocery store, retail, health care, meat processing and other industry jobs.
And herer's Equal Rights Washington:
With the prospects for securing marriage equality getting brighter each day, it's wonderful to see UFCW 21 join us in our civil rights struggle. Support from organized labor can really help the public understand that marriage is not only about love, commitment and mutual concern, it is also a unique legal institution that provides families unparallelled protections. You don't get the same level of legal protections with a domestic partnership and you don't get equal dignity either.
Here's to hoping that more unions come on board, more unions lobby the legislature, the legislature passes gay marriage, and—when a bunch of right-wing Christian nutters run a referendum to put gay marriage law on the ballot—that those unions whip out a few million bucks during the campaign to uphold gay rights.