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Public Employee Press: PEP Talk

Latino Heritage Committee gives help during crises


There was no ribbon-cutting or gatherings at union headquarters, and the annual Gay Pride March at the end of June celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first march for gay and lesbian rights in New York City was canceled due to COVID-19, but members off the union’s LGBTQI community were undeterred in celebrating this year’s Gay Pride Month. Led by DC 37’s Lesbian & Gay Issues Committee (LAGIC), some members participated in protests on May 25 in the aftermath of the police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, while others have marched in support of transgender rights.

Thousands rallied in front of the Brooklyn Museum on June 14 to protest the murders of Black trans and the Trump administration’s recent withdrawal of protections regarding gender identity discrimination in health care.

The following day, however, the community won a major victory in the U.S. Supreme Court when it ruled in a 6-3 decision that Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act protects gay, lesbian, and transgender employees from discrimination based on sex. The landmark ruling’s majority opinion was actually written by Trump appointee Associate Justice Neil Gorsuch, who said, “Today, we must decide whether an employer can fire someone simply for being homosexual or transgender. The answer is clear.”

“As a labor leader representing thousands of workers, it was an extremely emotional victory for me to know that the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled that we, the LGBTQI community, is protected against discrimination in the workplace based on sex. It has been a long time coming,” said Yolanda Pumarejo, SSEU Local 371 Executive Vice President and Co-Chair of LAGIC.

Throughout the month, celebrations continued with more than 50 events, including a virtual Gay Pride celebration on June 26, and the Queer Liberation March for Black Lives and Against Police Brutality on June 28, beginning with a rally at Foley Square in lower Manhattan.

LAGIC, founded in 1989, was organized to fight for recognition and respect for the LGBTQI community. The group has been strong in advancing the union’s agenda and successful in pushing for the legalization of same-sex marriages and greater acceptance of LGBTQI people within the union movement.