Press Release

Nurses Welcome Decision on Gay Rights, But Condemn Court’s Attack on Voting and Workplace Rights

National Nurses United, the nation’s largest organization of nurses, welcomed the Supreme Court rulings today moving the ball forward on the rights of same sex couples to marry while condemning earlier decisions this week that it said severely undermine democratic rights in the voting booth and in the workplace.

“Today’s rulings on the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8 are an important milestone in our society’s quest for equal rights under the law for all Americans,” said NNU Co-President Deborah Burger, RN in a statement today.

“These decisions are a testimony to the years of work of individuals and organizations that have fought for full equality for lesbians and gay men that has now been embraced by the majority of all Americans. The Court decisions today, while crafted in the most narrow fashion, is a welcome acceptance of the popular will.

“But there is a huge contrast here with the appalling, anti-democratic Court rulings earlier this week effectively overturning the historic Voting Rights Act, as well as decisions severely undermining the rights of workers on the job.

“The passage of nearly half a century has hardly dimmed the need for the Voting Rights Act. Over the past few years we have witnessed a disgraceful attack in state after state that is enacting restrictions on this most basic of all principles that is at the heart of democracy – the right to vote. These attacks, in hastily enacted laws or partisan maneuvers by state officials, have a disproportionate effect on minorities and low income people.

“Even though a number of these repressive efforts have so far failed, too many rightwing officials, encouraged by corporate funded organizations like the American Legislative Exchange Council, continue to step up efforts to restrict voting based on class and race. What the Court has done is given aid and comfort to those who believe in democracy for the few.

“Similarly, the Court’s decisions Monday eroding the ability of workers to challenge employment discrimination are, tragically, the latest in a long trend of abrasion of workplace rights. The rulings give an additional green light to employers to practice discrimination and retaliation against workers who challenge bias and harassment on the job. These decisions can only serve to further escalate the already severe economic disparities in our society.

“For all the rhetoric we have heard in the past about supposedly liberal ‘activist’ judges, this may well be the most activist court in U.S. history in re-writing laws and overturning democratic rights. NNU urges those who have actually been elected, in Congress and in state legislatures, to act in response to overturn these decisions, and popular efforts to extend, not limit, our democracy,” Burger concluded.