Jewish Labor Leader Comes Out, Promotes Gay Marriage Bill

Just in time for New York’s gay pride events, the president of the Jewish Labor Committee, Stuart Appelbaum, announced publicly that he is gay.

Appelbaum is thought to be the first president of a major international union to come out. Appelbaum is the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which represents 100,000 workers — most famously, the clerks at Macy’s, Saks and other department stores.

Appelbaum is no stranger to representing minority communities within the labor movement. He is the current president of the Jewish Labor Committee, where he has led efforts to stop union boycotts of Israel.

Appelbaum told Gay City News that he came out in order to help support gay marriage legislation that is working its way through the New York state legislature: “Marriage equality is so important to me. I came out because of it.”

Until now the most famous labor leader to come out publicly is another Jewish labor leader, Randi Weingarten, who heads the American Federation of Teachers, which is not an international union. Together Weingarten and Appelbaum provide one more indication that Jews remain at the progressive edge of the American labor movement.

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