Executive Council Statement | Civil Rights

Support for the Full Inclusion and Equal Rights of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People in the Workplace

Las Vegas

The mission of the AFL-CIO is to improve the lives of working families—to bring economic justice to the workplace and social justice to our nation. 

We believe that all union members are entitled to equal rights and that all of their families should have access to benefits they need and deserve.  The AFL-CIO is dedicated to fighting for those rights at the bargaining table, in the voting booth, in city halls and statehouses, and on Capitol Hill. 

The AFL-CIO recognizes that families come in all shapes and sizes.  As our families change, our union contracts also change.  For more than a generation, unions have negotiated domestic partner benefits for the workers they represent, which provide crucial access to health care, family and medical leave, and other benefits for our heterosexual families and seniors as well as lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender families.

Now, through the Federal Marriage Amendment (FMA), some members of the U.S. Congress want to amend the U.S. Constitution to deny important rights to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender families, such as the right to hospital visitation, inheritance, and health care rights for partners.  On November 2, 2004, eleven states passed similar marriage amendments to their state constitutions. 

In its 214-year history, the U.S. Constitution has been amended only 18 times, to grant basic civil rights.  For example, we added the Bill of Rights in 1791 to guarantee some of our most basic civil and criminal rights.  We also abolished slavery and gave the vote to women and young people by amending the Constitution.  But we have never amended the Constitution to discriminate against any group of people by denying them rights.

The FMA and its state counterparts threaten the rights of working people by creating an environment across the nation that is hostile to the rights of domestic partners, regardless of their sexual orientation.  Unions will have an increasingly difficult time making gains in domestic partner benefits, and preserving those benefits that they have already won at the table. 

The AFL-CIO reiterates its longstanding support for the full inclusion and equal rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people in the workplace and in society.