The TV sitcom "Will & Grace" got a shout-out from U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez on Saturday morning.
In a speech at the inaugural
"When I see the work you have done in the industry to address issues of equality, I'm so grateful to you,'' Perez told crowd of more than 350 delegates gathered at the J.W. Marriott at L.A. Live in downtown Los Angeles. "Vice President Joe Biden was right when he pointed out, we wouldn't gotten so far without 'Will & Grace.'"
Perez also cited a recent episode of the TV series
The topic of equal rights has been important for SAG-AFTRA. A study released Friday at the convention found that gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender actors continue to face discrimination when looking for work, though opportunities are increasing. About a third of those who responded to the survey by UCLA's Williams Institute and the entertainment union said that directors, casting directors and producers may be biased against LGBT performers.
Perez congratulated the union members for their decision to form SAG-AFTRA in spring, when the Screen Actors Guild and the American Federation of Television and Radio Artists voted to merge, creating the largest entertainment union in Hollywood with more than 165,000 members.
"There's an old saying there is strength in numbers,'' Perez said. "As you embark on this remarkable journey together as one, the fact of the matter is, people can't play you off against each other anymore-- that's really important."
Perez also called on union members to help sell the
"We need your help to get the word out and to counter the misinformation that is out there," he said.