Speech | Civil Rights

Shuler Celebrates LGBTQ Pride

Washington, D.C.

AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Liz Shuler delivered the following remarks at Pride at Work's annual Celebrating Solidarity reception: 

Thank you, Jerame (Davis), for that kind introduction.

Welcome to the AFL-CIO, everybody. Happy Pride!

Just about a year ago, I stood in the lobby of this building at an impromptu vigil for the 49 people killed at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando.

One by one, the amazing women and men who work here came to the front and read the names and ages of the victims.

In that profoundly sad moment, I felt pride.

Pride in the labor movement. Pride in the AFL-CIO. Pride in you.

Today, as we celebrate solidarity and honor our out-union leaders, my heart is filled with pride.

I am proud of the labor movement for making justice and fairness our mission.

I am proud to serve with leaders like Rich Trumka and Tefere Gebre who are committed to achieving equality for all workers.

I am proud of Pride at Work for making sure the labor movement focuses on LGBTQ issues AND the LGBTQ movement focuses on labor issues.

I am proud of our incredible honorees tonight. They are out. They are proud. And they make our movement stronger.

Donna Cartwright—a trailblazer for trans equality, longtime CWA member and tireless union activist.

Mary Kay Henry—the brave and dynamic leader of the Service Employees International Union and one of the architects of the Fight for $15.

Stuart Appelbaum—the brilliant, fierce and determined leader of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union who, if you didn’t know, successfully organized Babeland, a New York City sex shop.

Randi Weingarten—the fearless and committed leader of the American Federation of Teachers, who spends every waking moment improving the lives of our nation’s teachers, students and families.

Please join me in a round of applause for tonight’s honorees.

We are here tonight to celebrate. But there is still much work to be done.

LGBTQ people continue to face discrimination at alarming rates.

Violence against trans people of color is a national epidemic.

You can still be fired because of who you are in over half of all states.

Extremists from the state house to the White House are attacking our dignity and our rights.

So tonight, I want to invite every member of the LGBTQ community to join the labor movement.

Let our contracts protect you and lift you up.

When you form or join a union, you don’t just get higher wages, better benefits and protection from discrimination, you get 12.5 million sisters, brothers and friends who will always have your back.

Every single day.

Together, we are going to fight back against the haters—in politics, in religion, in business, in sports. We will confront bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head.

We refuse to go back in the closet. We refuse to go back in the shadows.

To quote the great prophet Katy Perry: We’re gonna stick around for more than a minute. Get used to it.

Our movement is here to stay. We are here to fight. And we are here to win.

Thank you very much! Happy Pride!

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