The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union has thrown its support behind the equal marriage movement, providing funds for advocates in Canberra amid calls for same-sex marriage legislation.
ACT branch secretary Dean Hall told Fairfax Media that the union had been providing financial support only for a short time, but was eager to join forces amid concerns over the Abbott Government.
He said same-sex marriage was an important issue for members, who also held concerns over the potential reintroduction of the Australian Building Construction Commission.
“We feel that there are a lot of similarities between the gay community fighting for equal love and the CFMEU fighting for equal rights in the workplace,” he said.
“They don’t get rights and Tony Abbott wants to takes ours away.”
Mr Hall, who will be speaking at a marriage equality rally in Canberra on Saturday, said the financial backing was also about supporting the gay members of the union.
His comments come ahead of an Australian Marriage Equality forum in Sydney, where Australian Workers Union boss Paul Howes will be arguing for compulsory Labor support.
Labor MPs are set to have a conscience vote on the issue of same-sex marriage, but Mr Howes told reporters on Wednesday that the party’s national conference should rule that federal MPs must be bound to the party’s platform.
The Right faction powerbroker says he was wrong at the last conference, held in 2011, to argue for a conscience vote and that MPs should be forced to vote in favour of any marriage equality laws.
In Canberra, Equal Love Canberra spokesperson Chris Bourne said his organisation held concerns over the same-sex marriage legislation recently introduced in the ACT Legislative Assembly.
He said an upcoming rally, to be held over the weekend, aimed at highlighting the support for the Marriage Equality Bill in the capital.
“It’s going to pass through the Legislative Assembly, but it’s looking likely that the Federal Government is going to challenge it in some way,” he said.
“If Tony Abbott thinks he can do this without any strong resistance, he’s wrong.”
Mr Bourne said the funding from the CFMEU had been vital for the advocates, who had been facing opposition from vandals throughout the city.
“It’s always an issue, particularly around the Australian National University campus, because our posters get torn down a lot,” he said.
“It’s hard sometimes to get the word out.”
ACT Attorney-General Simon Corbell is also due to address the rally, which will be held in Petrie Place from 1pm on Saturday.