NEA Official Denies Support for Homosexual Marriage

By Nathan Burchfiel | July 7, 2008 | 8:06 PM EDT

( - An executive in the nation's largest teacher's union has denied that the group supports homosexual marriage and said a resolution to that effect had been mischaracterized.

Delegates to the National Education Association's annual convention in Orlando, Fla., - held June 25 to July 6 -- approved a resolution stating that "sexual orientation and gender identification ... should not affect the legal rights and obligations of the partners in a legally-recognized domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage."

NEA member April LeBlanc complained to NEA leadership about the resolution, stating in a July 7 email to her NEA representative that she was "morally opposed" to homosexual marriage and felt that the issue "should not even be on our agenda."

In a July 8 email reply obtained by Cybercast News Service, NEA Resolutions Committee Chairman Brent McKim told LeBlanc that the resolution "has nothing to do with taking a position on the legality of same-sex marriage."

"The point of the Resolution is to say clarify (sic) that (sic) rights and responsibilities we believe should be insured in legally recognized relationships, such as marriage, civil unions, and so forth," McKim added.

He wrote that the group "does not have a position either for or against the legalization of same-sex marriage" and that it "is not seeking a position on same-sex marriage."

However, as Cybercast News Service previously reported, the NEA leadership originally hoped that delegates would vote on language supporting homosexual marriage and civil unions in all 50 states.

When an NEA delegate leaked the amendment to conservative groups, the American Family Association issued a statement in protest. That apparently prompted the NEA leadership to substitute the amendment with a weaker version, asking for and gaining an endorsement of homosexual marriage in states where it already legally existed.

In a July 6 interview with Cybercast News Service, NEA spokesman Andy Linebaugh confirmed that the intent of the substitute resolution was to endorse homosexual marriage laws currently on the books.

It was natural for union delegates to support enforcement of pro-homosexual marriage laws, Linebaugh said, because the association "has had a long history of supporting human and civil rights and they've had a long history of opposing discrimination and stereotyping."

Massachusetts is currently the only state that legally recognizes marriages between individuals of the same sex. Connecticut and Vermont have legalized civil unions with marriage-like benefits. Hawaii, Maine, New Jersey, California and the District of Columbia offer homosexual couples some of the same benefits offered to heterosexual married couples.

In the Cybercast News Service report from July 7, Linebaugh said the NEA substitute resolution would not apply to states where same sex marriage rights did not exist. He added that the resolution before the delegates would have no impact in classrooms.

But Sissy Jochmann, president of the Conservative Educators Caucus, said that while the substitute resolution did not support nationwide legalization of homosexual "marriage," she thinks the resolution did voice support for the concept. "I understood this to mean wherever it's legally recognized ... that's where they want these legal rights," she said.

The CEC is an officially recognized NEA caucus with approximately 50 dues-paying members, according to Jochmann.

McKim declined to elaborate on his charge, expressed in the email response to LeBlanc that the original Cybercast News Report report "ranged from misleading to completely false." He also refused to comment on Linebaugh's confirmation that the resolution did encourage the enforcement of pro-homosexual marriage laws.

LeBlanc also declined to comment beyond her complaint to McKim, indicating that she no longer believed the NEA resolution supported homosexual "marriage."

But others, like Jochmann, still are not satisfied, believing that NEA leaders and voting delegates "really need to stick to educational issues and stay away from these peripheral issues that just cause controversy and make us look bad."

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