(CNSNews.com) - The nation's largest teachers' union voted to amend its resolutions Wednesday to include support for homosexual "marriage." The amendment, which met with harsh criticism from conservative family groups, passed with little resistance from delegates.
The National Education Association's resolution on "racism, sexism, sexual orientation and gender identification discrimination" will be amended to include the statement that those factors "should not affect the legal rights and obligations of the partners in a legally-recognized domestic partnership, civil union, or marriage."
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.
As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the NEA weakened the amendment from its original form, which would have endorsed homosexual "marriage" in all 50 states, after pressure from conservative family groups like the American Family Association.
Andy Linebaugh, a spokesman for the NEA, told Cybercast News Service there was "very little" debate or controversy over the resolution at the group's annual convention because the NEA "has had a long history of supporting human and civil rights and they've had a long history of opposing discrimination and stereotyping."
"It would be natural that the organization that's steeped in protecting human and civil rights would pass it with relatively little controversy," Linebaugh said.
He added that the purpose of the resolution is to encourage the states that recognize homosexual "marriage" and civil unions to enforce their own laws and does not apply to other states. He said the resolution would have no impact on classrooms.
Delegate Ollie Underwood, president of the Alabama Education Association, requested that the resolution be referred back to the NEA Resolutions Committee for revision, but his colleagues denied his request and voted to accept the amendment.
Underwood was unavailable for comment Thursday but AEA executive secretary Dr. Paul Hubbert told Cybercast News Service that Underwood opposed the amendment because Alabama's delegation thought NEA "should really adopt no position."
"Our state felt that this was a matter that would probably be better not to be addressed by NEA since the whole purpose of NEA at this convention was basically to focus more on [No Child Left Behind] and the changes needed in various states on that issue," Hubbert said.
He said controversial issues like homosexual "marriage" distract delegates from really important matters and the Alabama delegation felt that "an education association ought to focus pretty much on education issues" instead of controversial social issues.
But Hubbert also criticized groups like AFA, which led the campaign urging NEA to drop the resolutions supporting homosexual "marriage," for adding to the distraction.
"Some of these groups that push different agendas obviously love to see those diversions created," Hubbert said, because they want to "weaken the NEA."
A spokesman for the AFA did not respond to requests for comment for this article on Thursday.
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