On Friday’s “Political Capital with Al Hunt” on Bloomberg TV, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka acknowledged that President Barack Obama’s recent announcement that he personally supports same-sex marriages could hurt his popularity this fall among labor leaders and union members. However, Trumka said he agrees with President Obama’s position on the issue.
“It could turn off some labor people. It could turn off some business people. It could turn off a group of people. And I hope that we get past the point where the policies that we adopt in this country, all we care about is what it does to the polls and not what’s good for the country. Look, I support that position. We support it as the labor movement because of discrimination.”
Trumka said he saw the legalization of gay marriage as a way to make sure everyone can enjoy both the obligations and benefits of marriage, and he maintained that his position on gay marriage is consistent with his broader stance on discrimination.
“There are 1,128 obligations and benefits you get from being married, responsibilities and obligations, as well as some benefits,” he said. “We think that everybody ought to be treated equally. So, it’s marriage equality is what we’re looking at, and people shouldn’t be discriminated against. When I saw people discriminating against Hillary Clinton because she was a woman, I spoke out against that. When I saw people discriminating against Barack Obama because of the color of his skin, I spoke out against that. And when I see people trying to deny people benefits and discriminate against them, I speak out against that, as well.”
As for Vice President Joe Biden commenting publicly on his support for gay marriage before the president’s big announcement, Trumka said the White House has shown a consistent ability to overcome Biden’s statements.
“Joe Biden has said a lot of things in the past, and they’ve been able to overcome things that they’ve agreed with or not agreed with. I don’t know if Joe led that parade or he was behind that parade, but I’m glad, however — if Joe did it, bully for Joe.”