Commentary: Union leader has personal stake in Prop 8 fight

The fight over gay marriage in California is growing like a movement or a cancer, depending on your perspective.

On Tuesday, almost every big union in California filed a legal brief that urged the state Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8, the voter-approved initiative restricting marriage to heterosexual couples.

It doesn't matter that most rank-and-file union members voted in favor of Proposition 8, according to exit polls. More than 50 of the biggest unions in the state joined to essentially support gay marriage.

In a political sense, it figures: Unions, Democrats and gay leaders are traditional allies in California – the views of their members be damned. But for Sacramento's most noteworthy union leader, this fight is personal.

Bill Camp is executive secretary of the Sacramento Central Labor Council and has a gay son who married over the summer, when it was legal for gay couples to wed.

In case you don't know, Camp is one guy in Sacramento who can get a political candidate elected – or un-elected if he sets his sights on a person.

Camp is a ruthless organizer and political operative whose punching power is masked by a soothing North Carolina drawl and amiable manner. In the fight over gay marriage, he is fighting for love.

"The word marriage has power. It's meaningful to people," he said.

"And when you get married, it's not really about sex. A big component is a commitment by the kin of that one person's family to that individual (marrying into the family). They are going to treat him as their own. I made that commitment to my (gay) son-in-law."

Camp's son Bayliss married his partner, Andrew, last June, a marriage in a kind of legal limbo since Proposition 8 was approved.

To read the complete column, visit The Sacrmento Bee.

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