Combating right-wing threats a key theme at Pride@Work convention
Pride March in LA in 2019 | Richard Vogel/AP

MINNEAPOLIS—Combating threats to their freedoms to marry who they want, to accept jobs without fear of being fired for being gay, or of being the target of  “social issue” campaigns around such schemes as “Don’t say gay” laws will be key issues at the AFL-CIO’s Pride@Work convention in downtown Minneapolis.

The convention will run from August 18-20.  Delegates represent the AFL-CIO’s constituency group for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Queer+ workers. They’ll hear from top Minnesota political speakers, such as Attorney General Keith Ellison and Secretary of State Steve Simon and union leaders who are LGBTQ people.

Those unionists include Teachers (AFT) President Randi Weingarten, Pride@Work Executive Director Jerame Davis, AFGE Vice President Jeremy Lannan and Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union President Stuart Applebaum.

And AFL-CIO Secretary-Treasurer Fred Redmond and News Guild President Jon Schleuss will receive Solidarity Awards for their championship of LGBTQ+ workers. Both will also speak.

Pride@Work delegates will tackle two big problems, according to the group’s convention call: How to combat the radical right, and gathering allies for such defense—of their rights and workers’ rights—in the runup to this fall’s election.

Those threats hit home for the LGBTQ+ community when the Republican-named right-wing U.S. Supreme Court majority deliberately destroyed the constitutional right to abortion in the recent case pitting Mississippi’s sole abortion clinic against the Magnolia State’s restrictive abortion statute. The clinic lost. It since closed permanently.

Not only did the justices, 5-4, toss out the 49-year-old Roe v Wade ruling which said abortion was constitutional, but the senior justice in that majority, Clarence Thomas, called for review of the constitutionality of same-sex marriage and even of contraception. In so many words, P@W Executive Director Davis asked: “Who’s next?”

That, plus actions in the states, notably Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” law, gleefully pushed through the Republican-gerrymandered state legislature by Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, a Donald Trump clone and potential 2024 presidential aspirant, rings alarm bells for Pride@Work.

The rightist threats even loom above Ellison and Simon. In the recent primary, Minnesota’s Republicans nominated Trump election 2020 deniers and rabid right-wingers to oppose both this fall.

“We chose our theme this year, Out for Democracy, to highlight how much democratic values underpin both the LGBTQ+ equality movement and the labor movement alike. Like the labor movement, Pride@ Work believes in every person’s right to a voice in their workplace and their government. But those core democratic values are under attack from all sides,” the group’s convention call says.

@PrideAtWork via Twitter

“Despite our gains, LGBTQ+ people still face extraordinary challenges, and the attacks aren’t stopping.

“Just this year, we’ve seen more than a dozen Republican-led states, like Florida, propose–and at least in Florida’s case, pass–discriminatory ‘Don’t Say Gay’ legislation. These laws ban even mentioning an historical figure is LGBTQ+, let alone discussion of any other age-appropriate material that touches on sexual orientation or gender identity.

“There have also been a rash of laws, like in Texas, that seek to punish families for providing appropriate, gender-affirming care to their children. These unconscionable attacks on kids–in some cases imposing mandatory reporting requirements on union educators and others–are heinous and must be stopped.

“Pride at Work is engaging the entire labor movement to fight these horrendous attacks on our Community.”

That battle is also going to be a top topic of convention workshops, including one on how to get your message out on social media, another on promoting issues to the news media, and particularly one run by Jocelyn Woodards of the AFL-CIO, entitled “Democracy Matters.”

“From restrictive voter suppression laws to an attack on the U.S. Capitol, American democracy is under threat today,” it says. Delegates “will examine the important role voting plays in a democracy and discuss how we can improve our democracy by protecting our elections from political interference and ensuring no American citizen is denied the right to vote.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.