Sweeney had served as the vice-president of AFL-CIO since 1980 and was elected president in 1995.
"The Catholic bishops have made it abundantly clear that Catholic universities are not to publicly honor leading opponents of Catholic moral principles," said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) in response to Georgetown's decision. "We strongly urge Georgetown to uphold its Catholic mission and rescind the honor to John Sweeney."
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, on August 24, issued an e-mail invitation to all faculty, staff and students of Georgetown's law school "to attend the ceremony for the conferral of the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, upon John J. Sweeney," president of the AFL-CIO.
In March 2009, however, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), the largest federation of trade unions in the U.S., unanimously called on the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8, which amended that state's constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The AFL-CIO constituency group Pride at Work has repeatedly promoted homosexual "marriage" and hailed laws in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont in the face of strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
Another AFL-CIO constituency group, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, launched its "Contraceptive Equity Project" in 2001 to demand that employers provide health insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives. The group advocates state laws forcing employers to fund such coverage.
In December 2001, a resolution was approved at the AFL-CIO national convention calling for a "national law that codifies the EEOC and District Court rulings, making coverage for contraceptives available under health care plans on the same terms that the plans cover other drugs, devices, and preventive care for employees."
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