AFL-CIO backs same-sex marriage legislation

as originally posted on Thursday, March 24, 2011 in the Providence Journal

PROVIDENCE –– The Rhode Island AFL-CIO executive board has, for the first time, voted to endorse legislation that would allow same-sex couples to marry in the state.

The announcement came the same day as Marriage Equality Rhode Island, a gay-marriage advocacy group, said that the Newport Democratic City Committee had voted recently to endorse gay-marriage legislation.

The committee represents Democrats in the hometown of Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, a Democrat who is opposed to gay marriage. It is chaired by J. Clement “Bud” Cicilline, a former state senator and uncle of openly gay U.S. Rep. David N. Cicilline.

Rhode Island AFL-CIO President George Nee called the discussion of same-sex marriage a “fundamental civil-rights issue.”

He cited a 2004 General Accounting Office report that showed that there are 1,138 federal civil statutory rights and responsibilities associated with the word “marriage” to which Rhode Island same-sex couples are now denied.

The vote to support Senate bill S-0029 and House bill H-5012 took place at the March executive board meeting, according to a news release from the union.

Nee said about 40 members of the executive board attended the meeting and of those who voted, none voted against the statement of support for same-sex marriage.

The Rhode Island AFL-CIO serves as the umbrella organization for more than 250 local unions and represents more than 80,000 workers in the state.


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