The Australian Services Union (ASU) will push for marriage equality at ALP and union meetings this year after 73 percent of its members came out in support of same-sex marriage.
ASU NSW secretary Sally McManus told the Star Observer that all of the union’s delegates would back same-sex marriage at the ALP’s national conference in December where the party will revisit its policy.
“There will be other forums in the lead-up to the national convention. There will be state ALP conferences, there will be discussions at an ACTU level and other union forums,” McManus said.
“It won’t just be in that final decision-making. At all the lead-up meetings we’ll be advocating very strongly in support of same-sex marriage.”
McManus said it was important unions represented the views of their members and encouraged other unions to find out where members stood.
“They should listen to the views of their members and reflect those views and if there’s a question about that, the best way to do it is a direct democratic process by asking them to have a say in it,” she said.
“There are some big unions who have expressed a strong view on this matter such as the Shop Distributive and Allied Employees Association [SDA] and I’m not certain if that’s the view of the majority of shop assistants. It’s not my union but I’m not certain that most young people these days are that out of step with what all the polls are saying.”
The SDA is headed by Joe de Bruyn, a socially conservative unionist who Gough Whitlam dubbed “the Dutchman who doesn’t like dykes” and who has campaigned against marriage rights for same-sex couples in the media.
McManus said the ASU executive had been surprised by the strength of the support for same-sex marriage that had come from members, with 2100 participating in its survey.
“I knew the result would be a majority in favour of it but I was pleasantly surprised about just how strong that majority was,” she said.
Australian Marriage Equality national convenor Alex Greenwich welcomed the support and called for the SDA to canvass members in the same way.
“The ASU and their membership should be congratulated for recognising that the right to equality for same-sex couples is in line with the core beliefs of the union movement,” Greenwich said.