SDA members tell union boss he’s wrong on marriage equality
Members of the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees Association (SDA), controlled by powerful union boss and vocal same-sex marriage opponent, Joe de Bruyn, have sent a submission in support of the reform to the current Senate inquiry into marriage equality.
Submissions to the inquiry being held by the Senate legal and constitutional affairs committee into Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young’s Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010 close today.
SDA Members for Equality sent in a submission supportive of marriage equality having only formed in recent months in the wake of comments by de Bruyn, the union’s national secretary, warning that gay marriage would lead to the end of civilization.
Duncan Hart, convener for SDA Members for Equality, said that de Bruyn’s comments were “out of step” with the majority of the union’s rank-and-file members.
“The SDA has often claimed to be speaking ‘on behalf’ of its members when opposing marriage equality.
“Despite repeated requests, the SDA has refused to survey its membership to ascertain their views on marriage equality. We know that many SDA members support the issue because we have received tremendous support and encouragement from them,” Hart wrote in the submission.
“We urge the committee to support the Marriage Equality Amendment Bill 2010, and to be mindful that any representations by the SDA against marriage equality are not true reflections of the views of the union's membership.”
The submission by SDA Members for Equality comes after 20 clerics from a number of faiths released a public letter over the weekend encouraging followers to publicly show their support for marriage equality.
“As clergy from various different faiths and denominations in Australia, we believe marriage is a fundamental institution in our society. It fosters greater commitment between partners, provides children with a sense of security and stability, and strengthens ties with families and communities,” the letter reads.
“Marriage is a blessing to be shared, so we encourage people of faith who support marriage equality to voice their support for the reform by sending a submission to the Senate and Lower House inquiries on same-sex marriage today.”
The public letter, sent to about 60,000 people, came soon after six Victorian-based bishops from the Catholic Church had written to parishioners asking them to oppose marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Australian Marriage Equality national convener, Alex Greenwich, said the developments were a sign of the growing momentum towards marriage equality.
“Some of the clergy were once opposed to marriage equality, but have gone on the same journey of acceptance that a majority of Australians have,” he said.
“Despite the moves of the Victorian Catholic Church, same-sex couples and our families can be confident we now have strong support from religious leaders across the country.”
Hanson-Young said marriage in Australia was now largely a secular public celebration and an institution capable of adapting to changes in society.
“My bill will still allow for churches to choose which to marry couples, as they already do,” Hanson-Young said.
“It merely removes discrimination against same-sex couples.”