Our chapter was a sponsor for the Rainbow Seniors ROC Pride Picnic. Despite the rain it was a hugely successful event!
|Michael won the Pride at Work raffle basket of lottery tickets|
On June 28th Bess Watts and her wife Anne Tischer were invited to the Town of Brighton Flag Raising event to speak. They were also presented with a proclamation by Town Supervisor Bill Moehle for their work on marriage equality, LGBTQ rights and labor. Bess and Anne participated in the unveiling of the flag in front of the Town Hall.
Speeches from Bess & Anne: Thank you for this invitation we are so happy to be here. As a former Local president of CSEA local 828 Monroe County, I have great appreciation for the Town of Brighton, Brighton Department of Public Works was always one of my favorite units. I would like to acknowledge Sonia who is here and is one of the few women who work in Public Works plowing the roads and working for the community. She is a very hard worker. I also have ties to the Town of Brighton as a retired employee of Monroe Community College.
My current title is President of Pride at Work AFL-CIO Rochester Finger Lakes Chapter, Pride at Work is a constituency group which advocates for LGBTQ issues in the workplace. I was once told to my face that we have no gay Union members. We were established over 12 years ago because there was a distinct lack of LGBTQ voices and visibility for workers who were covered under a Union contract. Pride at Work acts as a liaison between labor and the LGBTQ community. You do not have to be LGBTQ to belong to Pride at Work but you must support workers.
We’ve made great gains over the years in workplace protections, often with the Town of Brighton taking the lead whether it was domestic partner benefits or non-discrimination language in contracts. Brighton has proven to be a great partner for LGBTQ and all workers and it has been appreciated. Thank you.
Of all my titles the most important title is being the wife of Anne Tischer, we’ve been together over 27 years and I affectionately call her Atilla my Hon.
Good morning! My name is Anne Tischer. I currently coordinate the Rainbow Seniors ROC organization that serves LGBTQ+ seniors in the Greater Rochester area.
Our motto is “Live vibrantly at every age”…and we have been successful at that… though it is a relatively easy thing to do today thanks to the wave of equal rights protections that have washed over LGBTQ+ people in the last couple decades. 20 years ago that was not true for us… LGBTQ people could not live authentically as equally valued members of society.
And that was how 20 years ago Bess & I became “accidental activists…we just wanted domestic partner benefits at Monroe County College where Bess worked, so I could get some health coverage as her, then partner, of 10 years.
The County kept saying NO – they refused to recognize same-sex relationships. The result: with every “no” we became better activists…tried new approaches, formed new organizations, found allies, learned how to create political change.
We are proud to have been part of the movement that resulted in obtaining thousands of federal and state rights and benefits for LGBTQ+ people…marriage equality, military equality, employment non-discrimination benefits, student protections.
And We quickly learned the value of allies….people who would open doors or speak openly for for lgbtq people who may have lacked the confidence to come out of the closet to speak for themselves.
We first met the amazing Sandra Frankel when she came to lobby for domestic partner benefits at the County Legislature….talk about lifting our confidence & resolve! Sandy had our back.
And when the fight for marriage equality took top billing…there was Bill Moehle…constantly speaking on our behalf & offering his legal perspective as we educated the public about marriage rights denied to same-sex couples.
And we want to call out the townsfolk of Brighton who were in the vanguard for advancing equality and equity for LGBTQ people…The Churches & synagogues in Brighton were the first to offer educational events & visible support for equal marriage.
That was no surprise to us…Brighton has always been the torch bearer for human rights…LGBTQ families, Black lives, trans kids, immigrant rights, worker rights, people in Brighton value human beings and social justice.
We are proud to stand here and say thank you .
The rights we have achieved would not have happened without allies like Bill Moehle & Sandy Frankel & you great folks here in Brighton
Thank you for giving us LGBTQ+ seniors the opportunity to “live vibrantly” …with respect, security, authenticity and equity and equality.
“Sweeney, then President of SEIU, announced his full support of the fight of LGBTQ workers for equal rights and protections. At that time there was not much backing from national organizations fighting for our rights, and Sweeney was among the first to take a stand in our support.
“Throughout the following decade, LGBTQ workers continued to form groups around the country, but we still were not recognized or materially supported by the national AFL-CIO. The lack of solidarity stood out, since other groups who had joined together for mutual aid and support, now called constituency groups, were recognized and given financial support from the national labor movement.
“It wasn’t until 1997, two years after Sweeney ran and won the leadership of the AFL-CIO, that Pride at Work was recognized as the official constituency group for LGBTQ workers. Sweeney assigned Linda Chavez Thompson, the first woman of color to be an officer of the national labor federation, to advocate for recognition and financial support of queer workers’ organizing efforts.
“At the same time, Pride at Work broadened the scope of its efforts by advocating for marriage equality. Sweeney continued to speak out for the rights of LGBTQ workers to receive the same benefits that straight workers enjoyed.
“In closing let me say that while I’m sure Pride at Work would have existed without the support of John Sweeney, I’m sure it would have taken many more years. We stand on his shoulders, and those of all the pioneer trade unionists who stood up for justice for all.”