SOME LABOR TALKING POINTS ON MARRIAGE EQUALITY
The labor movement has a long, proud history of standing up for fair and equal treatment for all workers.Â Marriage equality is a union issue, an economic justice issue, and a social justice issue.
Same-sex couples take a financial hit because their relationships aren’t recognized under federal law; they have less ability to care for and support their families in times of need; and it is a social justice issue, in recognizing equality for LGBT people.
As the Massachusetts state supreme court found in 2004, addressing the disparities between civil union and civil marriage, “Separate is seldom, if ever, equal.”
Federal laws grant 1,138 rights, benefits and responsibilities triggered by the word “marriage”. Many people may be unaware that same-sex couples receive disparate rights and benefits under current law – both because of lack of marriage rights at the state level, but also because of the federal DOMA or so-called Defense of Marriage Act.
Regardless of state laws, the federal DOMA means that same-sex couples are denied:
ï‚· Pension benefits for their surviving spouse/partner
ï‚· Social security survivor benefits
ï‚· FMLA or bereavement leave for their same-sex partner
ï‚· The right to sponsor their spouse / partner for immigration
State DOMA laws have also been used to undermine collective bargaining, such as in Michigan when the DOMA law was used to try to bar fairly-negotiated domestic partner benefits. (â€˜Designated beneficiaryâ€ language is now often used to eliminate or at least limit the DOMA issues.)
In addition, same-sex couples must pay federal taxes on health care benefits for their spouse or domestic partner – because their relationships are not recognized under federal law. So even in states with marriage equality, those couples may file jointly at the state level and then must file as individuals at the federal level.