(Editor’s note: Luis Lopez is a longtime progressive LGBT activist and one of the founding members of HONOR PAC. He is now running for the California Assembly 45th District - a gay-friendly district represented by Antonio Villaraigosa, Jackie Goldberg and now Gil Cedillo. On March 31, Luis participated in the huge Labor Solidarity march in downtown LA and on April 4, he went to the national Solidarity rally at the First AME Church. This is a brief post with photos from that event. PLEASE NOTE: there is a fundraiser for Luis Saturday, April 9 (THIS AFTERNOON) from 4-6pm at LeBarcito - the historic Black Cat in Silver Lake. See details below and check his Facebook page. – Karen Ocamb)
Labor Standing Together
Teachers, nurses, long-term care workers, community allies–the whole labor family–converged on First AME in Los Angeles on Monday, April 4, to rally together in support of Wisconsin workers and to show strength in numbers in California.
The environment was buzzing and filled with familiar faces–young and old–representing the rich diversity in race, ethnicity, immigration status, and language that are Los Angeles and California.
This rally’s message echoed the recent march downtown, where I added my voice with several thousand California voters and the sounds of protest chants and high-school bands. We spoke then and reiterated in church on Tuesday that California must not and will not become Wisconsin. In both states, community leaders and elected officials need to heed the public outcry and the economic evidence: collective bargaining, public education, affordable healthcare and higher education, and reliable pensions are the backbones of a strong middle class. These proven tools of America’s strength need to be upgraded and renewed, not undermined or reversed.
The difference between reports from Wisconsin and the reality here in California couldn’t be starker. In Wisconsin, it was Republican victories in last fall’s elections that set up this winter’s attack on unions. That attack has disregarded the state’s proud history as a pioneer in public workers’ right to bargaining collectively, dating back to the 1950s. In contrast, Californians spoke resoundingly last fall, electing progressive labor allies as governor and to other state offices. LGBT voters, nearly 1 million strong, were key to the victories in California last November. LGBT labor activists, as public employees, retirees, or union officers, are a leading force in the push to fix our state budget in ways that are fair to students and seniors and true to our social conscience. They are also central to the pushback against attacks on immigrants, public servants, public schools, pensions, and our sense of equal opportunity and a shared future.
At First AME, I was struck by the passion of the choir and the reunion quality that infused the crowd. I was moved by the video tribute to Martin Luther King Jr., who was assassinated 43 years ago that day. He said before his cruel and untimely killing that he may not get to the promised land. Against the backdrop of Wisconsin, amidst hard times in California, it is up to us–LGBT and nongay alike–to build the beloved community of which he dreamed.