In Support of Marriage Equality

Looking at the larger picture – and taking action

Volume CIX, No. 6June, 2009

Paul Molloy

As a core value, organized labor fights to ensure respect, dignity and equality of working men and women.

Implicit in union contracts is the guarantee that all who work under them receive equal protection.

Likewise, throughout history, many social movements have sought equality for groups of oppressed people: the right of women and African-Americans to vote and own property, for instance.

When unions and social movements broaden their organizing strategies and join forces, their collective power increases, as does the likelihood of all parties achieving their goals.

Having said this, it is an honor to report that on April 16, I stood on the dais as Gov. David Paterson announced his intention to support marriage equality legislation in Albany.

I was there with State Senator Tom Duane, Assemblyman Daniel O’Donnell, Reps Jerry Nadler and Carolyn Maloney, Mayor Bloomberg, members of the Empire State Pride Agenda, and many other politicians and labor leaders.

Duane and O’Donnell have introduced the Marriage Equality Bill, and we at Local 802 believe it is critical to be part of the team that is leading the charge to ensure its passage.

Throughout our nation, our brothers and sisters in the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender communities are denied the 2,462 rights and responsibilities that state and federal governments grant to opposite-sex married couples.

Although New York has no discriminatory law or constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between one man and one woman, LGBT families are denied the same rights and protections accorded in opposite-sex marriages.

This form of legalized discrimination is an affront to the values of this union and to all humanity. It’s time to put an end to it. 

We at Local 802 firmly believe that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which guarantees equal protection under the law, applies to everyone.

Further, we assert that a marriage license issued in one state is valid in every other state. Article 4, Section 1 of the Constitution guarantees that full faith and credit be given in each state to the “public acts, records and judicial proceedings of every other state.” For example, a marriage license issued in Vermont is valid in every other state. This right must be denied to no one.

Unfortunately, far too many of our political leaders at all levels of government are on the wrong side of marriage equality, including our president and vice president.

As for the right wing, Republican National Committee Chair Michael Steele summed up the GOP’s position in a recent e-mail statement: 

“Our party platform articulates our opposition to gay marriage and civil unions, positions shared by many Americans. I believe that marriage should be between one man and one woman and I strongly disagree with Maine’s decision to legalize gay marriage.”

There is encouraging news, however. On May 12, the Assembly took the first critical step and passed Assemblyman O’Donnell’s Marriage Equality Bill (A. 7732) by a vote of 89 to 52.

The challenge lies in the Senate, where Tom Duane’s Marriage Equality Bill (S. 4401) faces a much tougher battle. His bill has 19 cosponsors, plus the support of Senate Majority Leader Malcom A. Smith.

At the time of this writing, five Democrats were steadfastly against the bill: William Stachowski of Buffalo, George Onorato and Shirley Huntley of Queens, Ruben Diaz of the Bronx and Darrel Aubertine of Cape Vincent. Additionally, there are 20 other senators who oppose the bill as well.

The key to the bill’s passage is getting 12 senators who are undecided on board. They are:

  1. Kenneth LaValle, R-1, Port Jefferson
  2. John J. Flanagan, R-2, East Northport
  3. Brian X. Foley, D-3, Blue Point
  4. Owen H. Johnson, R-4, West Babylon
  5. Charles Fuschillo, R-8, Merrick
  6. Hiram Monserrate, D-13, Jackson Heights
  7. Joseph Addabbo, Jr., D-15, Ozone Park
  8. John Sampson, D-19, Brooklyn
  9. Carl Kruger, D-27, Brooklyn
  10. Ruth Hassell-Thompson D-36, Williamsbridge
  11. Vincent Leibell, R-40, Patterson
  12. James Alesi, R-55, East Rochester

That’s where we come in.

Two weekends ago, most of you should have received an email alerting you to the campaigns in which we are currently involved.

For those who haven’t already done so, visit our Legislative Action Center. From there, click on “Issues” and then “Legislative Alerts and Updates.” There you will find the link to contact your state lawmakers on this subject.

We hope you’ll take a few moments to contact your state senator and urge him or her to support Tom Duane’s Marriage Equality Bill (S. 4401).

As our site says: “You can make a big difference in five minutes.”


The journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step. In mid-May, the House Judiciary Committee voted yes on the Performance Rights Act, a bill that would allow artists to be compensated when their recordings are played on terrestrial radio, just as they are on Internet and satellite radio. Local 802 and the AFM have been vigorously lobbying for this bill. The broadcasting lobby has been trying to kill this bill, but the voice of musicians prevailed. Look for more updates and calls for action soon. For more information, contact me at Better yet, take action on this issue at our Legislative Action Center.