June 26, 2015

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UUP welcomes marriage equality decision

uupdate 6-25-15

The Supreme Court’s ruling that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right is a major victory for freedom and equality, UUP President Fred Kowal said.

“This is a decision that is long overdue and very much welcomed,” Kowal said. “UUP has long supported gay rights and same-sex marriage and our union has stood steadfast in the face of those challenges. This landmark decision addresses the issues of equality and justice for all. Love wins out!”

On June 26, the Supreme Court issued its ruling on Obergefell v. Hodges, a case that challenged if the 14th Amendment required states to marry same-sex couples and recognize such a marriage performed out of state. Same-sex marriage has been legal in New York state since 2011.

In a 5-4 decision, Justice Anthony M. Kennedy, who wrote the majority opinion, said gay and lesbian couples are guaranteed the right of marriage under the U.S. Constitution.

“It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage,” said Justice Kennedy, referring to challengers to state bans on same-sex marriage. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

Bentley joyful over decision

Plattsburgh Chapter member Patty Bentley, a member of UUP’s Sexual Orientation United for Liberty (SOUL) Committee, NYSUT’s LGBTQ Task Force and a longtime gay rights supporter and activist, said the court's ruling makes same-sex marriage possible in all 50 states.

“I am absolutely ecstatic that the (court) has affirmed that (America’s) motto is equality and justice for all,” said Bentley. It’s wonderful news and I am thrilled.”

uupdate 6-25-15

Bentley, left, with AFT Assistant Director Marge Brown, attended a same-sex marriage rally in Washington, D.C., in April as the court heard oral arguments on Obergefell v. Hodges. She took a huge “We Are One” poster, above, to the rally; the poster was signed by hundreds of people who attended UUP's Spring Delegate Assembly and NYSUT’s Representative Assembly in May.

Other labor voices

Here's what other union leaders had to say about the court’s decision:

NYSUT: “NYSUT applauds today’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of marriage equality nationwide, a decision that is the culmination of a fight for justice over several decades by brave lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender advocates and their allies.

“Across the country, LGBTQ workers aren’t treated fairly. In too many states, they can be fired based solely on their sexual orientation or gender identity. They experience harassment and discrimination on the job. They earn less than their straight co-workers and they don’t have equal access to benefits like health care. This decision is a tremendous step forward but there is so much more work to be done.

AFT President Randi Weingarten: "From Loving to Windsor to today, love has won. As people start seeing one another’s real aspirations and dreams for all our families and our communities, as well as for ourselves, we see that the arc of history does bend toward justice.

“And while this is a day of celebration, there is more work to do in our fight for full equality. As a gay woman and union leader, I know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for my union—an ally in the struggle for rights and a shield from unfair discrimination in the workplace.

NEA President Lily Eskelsen García: “Today the Supreme Court has taken a monumental step forward in our national journey toward a more perfect union by making marriage equality the law in every state of our great nation. On behalf of our members—and the students they serve—we applaud the court’s historic decision, which will end discrimination against same sex couples, place them on equal footing with other families and safeguard all of our children.

“We know that today’s ruling will make a tremendous difference both to the dignity and personal and economic well-being of same sex families and to the dignity and personal well-being of their children as well as others who have been bullied and fearful due to their sexual identity. We applaud the Supreme Court and the many advocates whose work resulted in today's historic decision.”

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler: “Today’s Supreme Court decision marks a truly historic day in America. While there is still work to do to secure economic and social justice for LGBT Americans, the court’s ruling is a major victory for everyone who believes in equality.

“Same-sex couples will now have equal access to marriage licenses like any other couple. This ruling is a win for children, families, workers and our entire country.”

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