SEIU recently announced a $20,000 grant for Equality Pennsylvania and a renewed commitment to advancing LGBT rights in the state.
Ted Martin, Equality PA executive director, said the funding will be utilized to advance the agency’s political efforts, among other initiatives.
The grant matches funding that the union originally provided last year, which Martin said was used as seed money to get Equality PA’s 501(c)(4) political entity off the ground.
While the original grant was influential in expanding the organization’s lobbying power, Martin noted it also forged an important connection for the LGBT community.
“It helped us build important allies and introduce members of the progressive community in organized labor to LGBT issues,” he said. “It was a two-way street: It helped us establish ourselves and get our issues introduced to this community.”
EQPA board president Adrian Shanker said that working with SEIU in the past year has shown the necessity of creating such relationships.
“We cannot win equal rights for the LGBT community in Pennsylvania without the support from our brothers and sisters from labor,” he said. “SEIU’s previous support allowed us to grow into a statewide organization and I am so thankful to SEIU for their continued support this year.”
In partnership with EQPA, the union recently launched its Pennsylvania Lavender Caucus for LGBT employees. Martin said his agency will work closely with the union in the next year to develop the caucus and is also planning initiatives like roundtables with labor leaders on LGBT inclusion.
Adanjesus Marin, an executive board member of SEIU Healthcare Pennsylvania and an EQPA board member, said the union is “proud to stand shoulder to shoulder with our strategic partner, Equality Pennsylvania, in our joint struggle for a more just state.”
The Pennsylvania chapter of SEIU represents 58,000 members. The international president of SEIU, Mary Kay Henry, is openly lesbian.
Jen Colletta can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.