Published: June 3, 2021

This statement is from SEIU 503 Executive Director Melissa Unger and President Mike Powers on Pride Month 2021:

As we observe Pride Month 2021, we are committed to lifting up the voices of our LGBTQ+ communities and recognize their contributions to our union and society. At SEIU 503, we’re proud of our Lavender Caucus, an active group of member-leaders who help drive the direction of our union. We work to make sure that no one is discriminated against based on their gender, sex, or sexual orientation. And we take our work seriously.

This year, our members helped compel the Oregon Legislature to remove the “panic defense” for when people assault or kill someone based on their false assumption about their gender. We also successfully advocated for PEBB, the public employee health care insurer, to expand health care access for LGBTQ+ families and make it more affordable for everyone. And we know there is much more work to do.

We recognize that hate directed at LGBTQ+ people still exists and manifests in horrible ways across our society. For example, 26 transgender and gender-nonconforming people were killed in the United States in the first 20 weeks of 2021, with Black and other trans people of color facing disproportionate violence. No one is free from hate until we are all free, regardless of our race, gender, where we come from, or who we love.

So this month, and every month, we celebrate the beauty, the light, the love, and the strength of our LGBTQ+ members and those who came before us.

A previous version of this post used the term “sexual preference,” which could be used to suggest that being gay or bisexual is a choice. We apologize for the use of this offensive term. Sexual orientation is the accurate description of an individual’s enduring physical, romantic and/or emotional attraction to members of the same and/or opposite sex and is inclusive of lesbians, gay men, bisexuals, as well as straight men and women (see AP & New York Times Style). Members of the Lavendar Caucus were not consulted on the original text of the statement.