Labor unites in opposition to amendment banning gay marriage in Minnesota


Minnesota’s largest labor federation Monday declared its opposition to the proposed constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman, which will go before the state’s voters in November 2012. In a unanimous vote, the general board of the 300,000-member Minnesota AFL-CIO approved a resolution opposing the marriage amendment, dismissing it as “an effort to enshrine discrimination into state law.”

“The labor movement is and has always been about protecting and advancing the rights of all people,” Minnesota AFL-CIO President Shar Knutson said. “We will not stand by and allow discrimination to become part of Minnesota’s constitution.”

Unions often avoid taking a stance on divisive social issues, making bread-and-butter economic issues – job creation, health care, retirement security – the focus of their political outreach to members.

But the marriage amendment is, in fact, an economic issue for gay couples in Minnesota – a point the Minnesota AFL-CIO General Board noted in its resolution:

“The United States General Accounting Office has documented that over 1,000 federal benefits and protections acquired by civil marriage are not available to same-sex couples, including the ability to collect social security benefits, pension or death benefits in the event of a partner’s death…

“Trade unionists believe that our gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters undeniably deserve the same benefits as their heterosexual counterparts.”

Michael Moore edits The Union Advocate, the official publication of the St. Paul Regional Labor Federation.