Cersonsky, James

James Cersonsky is a writer and sometime labor activist based in Philadelphia. His work has appeared at the Nation, Dissent, Campus Progress, and In These Times.

How Labor Helped Win Marriage Equality in Maryland, Washington: What We Can Learn

By James Cersonsky

As a straight, black labor organizer, Ezekiel Jackson is not the conventional face of gay rights. But as a visible defender of queer justice to the non-queer population, Jackson was the ideal choice for the presidency of Marylanders for Marriage Equality, a coalition of progressive groups. Last month, MFME made Maryland the eighth state to legalize same-sex marriage, just two weeks after Washington became number seven.

“It wasn’t any struggle to get us on board,” Jackson says of his union, 1199, a local of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) representing some 400,000 healthcare workers throughout the northeast. “We took a leadership role in putting together the coalition.”