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Lesbian to Lead SEIU

Lesbian to Lead SEIU


Mary Kay Henry, the out lesbian head of the California nurses' union, has been selected to lead the Service Employees International Union, which represents 2.2 million workers in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.

According to Ben Smith at, the largely unknown Henry won after sentiments turned against Anna Burger, the preferred successor of retiring president and major Democratic ally Andy Stern, who had become a divisive figure.

"One person familiar with the deliberations said the swing voters decided that Henry was closer to a consensus choice, as opposition to Burger had already begun to divide the union," reported "If Burger was to win, they decided, she would have had to win cleanly, and it was already too late for that."

Henry, who has served as international executive vice president of SEIU since 2004, becomes the first woman and the first openly gay person to lead the union. According to her bio on the union's website, she is a founding member of SEIU's gay and lesbian Lavender Caucus.

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