WASHINGTON, D.C., October 19, 2012, ( >LifeSiteNews) – Although their membership is evenly split, 90 percent of all union contributions go to the Democratic Party. Now, as it has become a wedge issue in the 2012 presidential campaign, a number of the nation’s largest unions have endorsed same-sex “marriage.”
The UAW, AFL-CIO, SEIU, AFSCME, and other top unions have issued statements supporting same-sex “marriage.” Many state-level unions have followed suit, particularly in states like Maryland, where the issue is on the ballot this November.
While some unions have backed gay nuptials for a few years, others, such as the UAW, announced their support only after President Barack Obama announced his position had changed on the issue.
Obama, who had previously opposed redefining marriage, changed his views in May in response to mounting pressure from the homosexual lobby and, in his words, the role of religion and conversations with his teenage daughters about the issue. Since then, same-sex “marriage” has become a major part of the Democratic Party platform.
Historically, more than 90 percent of all union political spending – which totaled a staggering $4.4 billion between 2005 and 2011, according to the Wall Street Journal – has been in support of Democratic candidates for office.
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This is one reason why groups like the National Right to Work Committee argue against compulsory unionism laws that force many workers to pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment. While virtually all union political spending goes to support Democrats, the rank-and-file union members who finance that support are about evenly split between Republicans and Democrats, just like the rest of the country. Yet many have no choice about where the union spends their money.
Up until recently, that coerced financial support for Democrats had been largely based on economic and workplace concerns. Democrats favor a higher minimum wage, taxpayer-funded healthcare, and other measures that union officials claim benefit the workers they’re paid to represent.
The same-sex “marriage” issue is not related to workplace concerns, nor is it something most working families support. A CNN exit poll taken during Ohio’s 2004 battle to ban same-sex “marriage” showed that 64 percent of union members and 63 percent of those living in union households voted in favor of the ban in defiance of the AFL-CIO’s public opposition.
Former union negotiator Phil Burress was one of them. He chaired the campaign to protect traditional marriage, and was appalled at what he saw as union officials’ betrayal of their members’ values. Burress told CNS News that he considered the AFL-CIO’s backing of the homosexual and transgender agendas to be “a stealth campaign.”
“I know union workers,” he said, “and on these social issues—especially dealing with marriage—the AFL-CIO does not represent the rank-and-file workers.”
Union bosses, he added, “certainly talk with workers when it comes to negotiating contracts, but when it comes to taking public policy stances, they don’t talk to the membership at all.”
Similarly, when Michigan, a labor union stronghold, voted to amend the state constitution to block gay “marriage” and “civil unions,” a Detroit News poll showed two-thirds of union members voted for the amendment. Meanwhile, AFL-CIO and MEA teachers union officials campaigned against the marriage amendment. Because it was an issue, not a candidate they were campaigning against, they were able to do so with union treasury dues, not PAC money.
After passage, the Michigan ACLU filed suit to limit the marriage amendment’s enforcement. The plaintiff in the case? “Pride at Work,” the homosexual activist arm of the AFL-CIO.
Even though union members overwhelmingly supported the ban on gay “marriage,” their dues money was spent fighting it, both before and after the vote.
Mike Goschka, then a Michigan state senator and a member of the United Steelworkers Union, was angry. He told Focus on the Family he thought the issue was as bad for society as legalized abortion.
“I was 19 years old and abortion was made legal,” Goschka said. “I didn’t have a clue back then, but this is on our watch. We simply cannot stand idly by and watch the demise of the culture.”
“Polling data show that the American people continue to be closely divided on the issue of ‘gay marriages,’” Stanley Greer, Senior Research Associate at NILRR wrote on his blog. “And in the dozens of states that have held ballot measures or referenda on the particular question of whether public policy should recognize and encourage same-sex unions, majorities have voted ‘No’ every time, most recently in North Carolina this spring.”
“Rank-and-file union members have disparate views on this controversial issue, just as other Americans do,” continued Greer. “With evident contempt for the views of millions of rank-and-file unionists, AFL-CIO czar Richard Trumka and other union bosses are using their forced dues-funded empires to assist a controversial political agenda.”
Same-sex “marriage” legislation is on the ballot this year in Maryland, Maine, Washington and Minnesota.