St. Paul, MN – As the Minnesota House of Representative prepares to vote on HF 1054 Thursday, leaders and members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) are calling on legislators in both the House and the Senate to vote yes to legalize the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.
In an oped published in today’s Pioneer Press, Jamie Gulley, President of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota, joined other labor leaders in calling on the Minnesota legislature to pass the marriage bills this session.
“We believe in a fair Minnesota,” said Gulley. “A Minnesota that values love, commitment, and responsibility. Everyday hard-working Minnesotans strive to build a state that is inclusive and prosperous for all, with no exceptions.”
SEIU members were active in the 2012 efforts to defeat the marriage amendment which would have permanently limited the freedom to marry for same-sex couples in Minnesota. Javier Morillo, President of SEIU local 26, served as a board member for Minnesotans United for All Families during the 2012 campaign.
“Our members have put hundreds of hours into door-knocking, phone-banking, doing whatever they could to secure the freedom to marry in Minnesota,” said Morillo. “Our members know that to deny justice and freedom to some people, simply because of who they are, is not how we do things in Minnesota. Our legislators need to pass this bill so that our core Minnesota values of fairness, freedom and family are represented in our state’s marriage laws.”
“All of our members should be afforded the same rights and responsibilities under the law, particularly when it comes to employment benefits,” said Carol Nieters, Executive Director of SEIU Local 284. “So many same-sex couples and their families are not given the same rights when it comes to the healthcare we provide to our members, simply because our state does not recognize those families. Our LGBT brothers and sisters deserve the same protections under the law, and we can move toward that with this marriage bill.”
Mitch Azarcon, president of the SEIU Lavender caucus, testified at the House and Senate committees in support of the bill. She is a surgical core tech at Rochester Methodist Hospital and a member of SEIU Healthcare Minnesota.
“To me, marriage is about love and commitment,” said Azarcon. “The vow of ‘to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part,’ is a vow that should not be afforded to only between one man and one woman. It should be for all couples, and that includes gay and lesbian couples who are willing to make that same commitment with their partners. As a labor leader, I believe in the dignity and worth of all workers, and I will continue to fight for a just and humane society.”
“As a state, we’ve spent years talking about why marriage matters so much,” said Gulley. “And we’ve affirmed what we already knew to be true: Marriage is about the love, commitment and responsibility that two people share. This year, we have the chance to strengthen thousands of families by extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples. Now is the time. This is the year. Let’s make Minnesota the 12th state to grant the freedom to marry.”
SEIU is the workers who provide care and support for your family in hospitals, nursing homes, schools, child care, and the Twin Cities’ largest public and private buildings. The SEIU Minnesota State Council coordinates the electoral, legislative and outreach work of the SEIU Locals in Minnesota to increase the effectiveness of their collective bargaining and new member organizing campaigns. By building the political involvement of approximately 30,000 SEIU members throughout the state, the State Council is working to improve the lives of all Minnesotans. The State Council’s board is comprised of elected leaders, members, and staff of the four SEIU Local Unions in Minnesota.