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WTO Grave Threat
to Domestic Partnerships & PWAs

Compiled by GayToday

seattlepartners.jpg - 10.35 K Seattle, Washington--- "It's fairly well known that the World Trade Organization (WTO) presents grave threats to laws protecting the environment, labor, and public-health standards," said Rich Pfouts, president of Equality Washington/Hands Off Washington.

"Fewer people are aware, however, of the threat the WTO poses to the new domestic partnership laws in Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco."

For these and other reasons, thousands of gay and lesbian protestors are taking part in WTO demonstrations this week in Seattle.

Seattle, Los Angeles and San Francisco, they note, have laws that require businesses who do business with the cities to offer domestic partner benefits to their employees that are equal to the benefits offered to employees with spouses.

The Agreement on Government Procurement, enforced through the WTO, severely limits how 36 national governments can condition their contracts with international businesses.

"These contracts must be narrowly focused on the goods or services to be provided. They cannot include requirements for domestic partnerships or any other matters, like required use of recycled materials or preferences for local purchasing," said Sarah Luthens, Equality Washington board member and co-chair of the Seattle chapter of Pride at Work, AFL-CIO, the LGBT constituency group of the labor movement.

"There is movement afoot within the WTO to extend the Agreement on Government Procurement to all cities within the United States, which would render the domestic partner laws unenforceable," continued Luthens, who is a union organizer and an attorney.

She bases this analysis on the findings of Robert Strumberg, a Georgetown University Law Professor with 23 years experience in economic development, banking, and the domestic effects of international trade agreements.

Earlier this month Luthens presented workshops on "How the WTO Threatens Domestic Partnership Laws" at the Queers Fight the WTO conference in Seattle and the National Gay Lesbian Task Force's "Creating Change" conference in Oakland, California.

Related Stories from the GayToday Archive:
World Trade Meets Ecological Decline

AIDS Activists Storm U.S. Trade Representative's Office

The Politics of Life and Death: Global Responses to HIV and AIDS

Related Sites:
The International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission

WTO Protest Group

GayToday does not endorse related sites.

Both of these conferences also presented workshops on how the WTO perpetuates the global AIDS crisis.

Dyke Action along with other cosponsoring organizations have organized a visible contingent that is participating in the People's Rally and March for Fair Trade.

The gay, lesbian, bisexual and trqansgender community has linked with labor unions, environmentalists and other progressive groups that are seek fair international trade policies to protect democratic representation, workers' rights and the earth's natural resources. Over 30,000 people are participating.

For more information on the WTO and AIDS, contact the International Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission at or

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