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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, July 3, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 27
After marriage equality, economic equality
Section One
ALL STORIES
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After marriage equality, economic equality

by Mike Andrew - Pride At Work
Martin Luther King
County Chapter

Like everyone else, our Pride At Work members were delighted by the U.S. Supreme Court decision establishing marriage equality as the law of the land.

Although we in Washington won the right to marry in 2012, nationwide recognition of our relationships is a huge victory for all of us.

At long last we'll be able marry who we want, and build the families we want anywhere in the country we want to live. And we'll be able to offer our husbands and wives all the protections that are attached to marriage in the American legal system.

Nevertheless, winning marriage rights and everything that goes along with them is not the end of our struggle for equality.

Nobody's family is sustainable without affordable housing, healthcare, schools for the kids, public transportation, cheap electricity - all the everyday things we take for granted until the day we can't afford them anymore.

We all know this. Yet for most of us, all these things that we need to live a happy life with the husbands and wives that we love are problematic.

According to almost 15 years of studies by the prestigious Williams Institute, Gay and Bi men earn less and are unemployed more than straight men. In fact, Gay and Bi men may earn as little as 68 cents for every dollar a straight man earns.

There is not much of a gap between the earnings of Lesbians and straight women, but women as a whole earn less and are unemployed more than men.

Our Transgender brothers and sisters are in a dire situation. Fifteen percent get by on incomes of less than $10,000 per year. And because race is a pervasive basis for discrimination in American society, LGBT people of color are often in the worst position, regardless of which letter they identify with.

All these economic disparities are legacies of long years of discrimination against our communities. LGBT workers are concentrated in the industries where we felt it was safe for us to work - often low-pay, low benefit industries like retail, hospitality and food service, and other service occupations.

That's why raising the minimum wage - as we did in Seattle - was so important to LGBT workers, and workers in other similarly marginalized communities.

Our minimum wage may be going up to $15 per hour, but housing prices are going up even faster, and many LGBT people have been forced to move away from Capitol Hill - the neighborhood we historically settled - and into the Central District, Columbia City, or Rainier Beach where we displace other marginalized communities.

That's not all. For years and years we were prevented by law from marrying our partners. That means that LGBT seniors will miss out on the Social Security and pension survivor benefits that help their straight counterparts live in at least modest comfort in their old age.

So, in addition to higher wages, we also need controls on rent and utility costs, so our community can continue to live in a cohesive LGBT-friendly neighborhood, and we need to strengthen the safety net for our seniors. These issues are not news to anyone who lives paycheck to paycheck, like most of us do. The question is, what will we do about them?

Remember that marriage equality did not just happen. It happened because we made it happen. We met years and years of discrimination with years and years of resistance, years and years of organizing, and years and years of educating our straight neighbors and coworkers.

Now that marriage equality is a done deal, we need to turn to the fight for economic equality. It will take the same kind of relentless organizing it took to win marriage, but we can do it. After all, we've done it before.

And we have friends. Pride At Work is affiliated with the AFL-CIO, America's largest union federation, and I'm proud to say that Washington state's labor movement played an outstanding role in our fight for marriage equality in 2012, and continues to fight for equality in our workplaces.

We look forward to the day when everyone's work is well-rewarded, regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, or any other characteristic, and where people's basic needs like food, housing, healthcare, and transportation are guaranteed.

Mike Andrew is a Staff Writer for Seattle Gay News and a member of the National Writers Union (UAW 1981). He is an officer of Martin Luther King County Pride At Work - an LGBT labor organization affiliated with the AFL-CIO - and represents Pride At Work on the executive board of the Martin Luther King County Labor Council.

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Jim Obergefell lays a wreath at Gay Pioneers historic marker to launch National LGBT 50th Anniversary Celebration
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Love wins! Marriage Equality Rally at Federal Courthouse with Seattle Mayor Ed Murray
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Raise $309,865 in four days on Indiegogo in response

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God and marriage equality
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HRC commends Episcopal Church for historic vote allowing religious weddings for same-sex couples
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After marriage equality, economic equality
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SASG losing house on Capitol Hill, looking to purchase
New Capital Campaign includes $300,000 Matching Gift Challenge

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Your constitutional right to cuss out the cops
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Reparative therapy is consumer fraud, NJ court says
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Judge voids Louisiana laws against same-sex marriage Bobby Jindal is still an ass
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Federal judge in Alabama:
Marriage equality must begin in every county. Now.

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You will marry Gay and Lesbian couples, judge tells Alabama
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New federal overtime rules: Who is eligible?
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Germany blocking European Equality Directive, Euro Parliament VP says
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Turkish police attack Istanbul Pride march, draw international condemnation
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Hundreds march in second Cyprus Pride Parade
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Cuba eliminates mother-to-child HIV transmission
WHO hails breakthrough

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McDermott comments on Obergefell v. Hodges decision
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MARRIAGE EQUALITY: Supreme Court Decision 'A Victory for Equality and For Love'
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BREAKING NEWS
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U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin's statement on Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage
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