On January 5, members of 1199SEIU in Baltimore hosted the Maryland and DC AFL-CIO, as the 300,000-member labor federation announced support for a marriage equality bill proposed by Governor Martin O’Malley for this year’s Maryland legislative session.
At a press conference, AFL-CIO state president Fred Mason explained that “the fight for marriage equality is perfectly in line with labor’s long history of fighting for fairness and the rights of working families,” citing the Family Medical Leave Act and other landmark legislation passed with labor’s support.
Laquona Surgeon, a geriatric nursing assistant and 1199 member, spoke about her own same-sex relationship, telling the crowd, “This is about being able to take care of our children.” She said that she was proud that her union will be “on the right side of history” when it comes to the fight for marriage equality.
The announcement comes on the heels of the unanimous adoption by delegates to the 2011 convention of the Maryland State and District of Columbia AFL-CIO of a resolution which calls on state lawmakers to support “marriage equality legislation in Maryland that effectively protects religious freedom.”
Ezekiel Jackson, 1199SEIU political organizer and president of Marylanders for Marriage Equality likened the resolution to a rallying cry for all local unions in Maryland and said it shows broad support for same-sex marriage in the state.