While pundits are debating whether "Brokeback Mountain" may herald acceptance of gay marriage, many taxpayers and teachers may be surprised to learn that almost a year ago the California Teacher's Association (CTA) endorsed AB19 supporting gay marriage. Bill Collins, Legislative Advocate for the largest teacher's organization in the state, wrote a letter to Assemblyman Mark Leno on February 18, 2005 in which he said, "The state has no legitimate reason to discriminate by prohibiting same-sex couples from marrying...use our endorsement of AB19 as may be helpful to its enactment."
The Capitol Resource Institute asked, "What is the CTA doing lobbying for gay marriage? Why are union dues being spent to support this venture? The CTA's own mission statement limits their involvement to issues affecting teachers as professionals. How is gay marriage an issue that professionally affects teachers?" In Collins' letter he states that the endorsement was "voted by some 800 teacher-delegates from throughout the state." But does this endorsement represent the majority of California teachers?
A Princeton poll conducted by Pew Research in July 2005 shows the majority of Americans continue to oppose gay marriage. As well, the majority of Californians oppose gay marriage. Five years ago over 60% voted for Prop. 22 which, "ensures ... that California will not permit same-sex partners to validly marry within the state. Without submitting the matter to the voters, the Legislature cannot change this absolute refusal to recognize marriages between persons of the same sex." More recent polls show Californians still want marriage to stay between one man and one woman.
While Assemblyman Leno's AB19, which would have altered the definition of marriage, 'a union between a man and woman' as adopted by the Legislature in 1977, failed by 4 votes, on September 7, 2005 the California Assembly, became the first in the nation to approve same-sex marriage, by voting in favor of another bill by Mark Leno, AB849. But this effort was stopped by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's veto, because it did not represent California voters as expressed by Prop. 22.
Concerned that this is not the end of the battle for marriage VoteYesMarriage.com is currently seeking to have California join the 18 other states that have amended their constitutions to ban gay marriage and is working to get a solid initiative on the ballot. Randy Thomasson of Campaign for California Families stated recently, "Whether for 2006 or 2008, VoteYesMarriage.com is devoted to giving the people the chance to protect marriage from the clutches of the bureaucracy."
Still, the question remains, "Does the CTA speak for the majority of California teachers?" Does the NEA and other state teacher organizations speak for teachers across the nation? Frankly, it is difficult to determine as there is little documentation, research or polls, to accurately verify where teachers stand on this issue.
There is, however, a plethora of websites and articles pointing out the need for teachers to be trained on how to teach about the homosexual lifestyle, even in kindergarten, 'hate crimes' against gay students and teachers, and statistics by pro-gay groups about the negative attitudes of teachers that need to be changed. For instance, according to N.O.W. 85% of teachers oppose integrating lesbian, gay and bisexual themes in their curricula, and GLSEN reports 80% of prospective teachers report negative attitudes toward gay and lesbian people.
I would appreciate information from anyone who knows of any valid research on where teachers stand on this issue.
In the meantime, let me ask California teachers, and teachers from across the United States: Are you in favor gay marriage? Do the delegates of your teacher organizations speak for you? Vote in our poll HERE , just scroll down to the gold box on the left sidebar. We will publish the final results the first of February.
Will gay marriage become a reality in California, in America? The classroom is being used as a major battlefield for this issue. What side are teachers standing on? Please tell us. Voters and parents want to know.
Endnote: Currently in California AB606 is before the state legislature, which if passed will give the state superintendent unprecedented authority to withhold funds to any school district that is found to have violated 'hate crimes' as outlined in the bill.
See CTA Letter
Statistics: Fraction of couples that are same-sex
Princeton/Pew Poll on Gay Marriage in America
HEAR MY INTERVIEW on this issue with Karen England of the Capitol Resource Institute
Sharon Hughes - Sharon is the President of The Center for Changing Worldviews, and hosts Changing Worldviews TALK Radio which is heard
on KDIA AM1640 San Francisco; KGDP AM660 Santa Maria, CA and WITA AM1490 Knoxville, TN, as well as online daily at Oneplace.com. Her column appears on several online news sites including CaliforniaRepublic.org, ChronWatch.com, Ediblog.com, chNews.com, NewsWithviews.com, RenewAmerica.us and others. For further information visit her: Website www.changingworldviews.com