POLITICS

Martin Sheen Calls Minimum Wage Increase 'Far Less A Political Issue Than A Moral One' (VIDEO)

03/13/2014 05:51 pm ET

CHICAGO -- Actor Martin Sheen teamed up with Ill. Governor Pat Quinn on Thursday to lend his star power to the Democratic governor's push for a higher minimum wage.

Speaking before the crowd at a South Side church, Sheen invoked Pope Francis and cited his Catholic faith as the reason he supports a minimum wage increase.

"I've been an actor all my life, that's what I do for a living," said Sheen, who portrayed President Josiah Bartlet on TV's "The West Wing." "But activism is what I do to stay alive and this is a reflection of my activism. This is far less a political issue than a moral one."

Sheen and Quinn appeared at the Rally To Raise State Minimum Wage. For months, Quinn's goal has been to raise the state's minimum wage to $10 an hour from the current $8.25.

"Who could argue with $10 an hour?" Sheen said. "The people who oppose it should try to live on that in today's market. We know it's not possible."

Quinn's push coincides with a nationwide effort by Congressional Democrats to raise the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour from the current $7.25.

Opponents say raising the minimum wage will kill jobs and ultimately hurt the economy, though proponents like Quinn vigorously disagree.

"If you work 40 hours a week and do things right, you shouldn't have to live in poverty. That's a fundamental principle we all believe in, and we want to do something about it," Quinn said, later adding, "We are going to do it in Illinois and show the whole country how to do it."

Thursday's minimum wage boosting rally wasn't the first time the "Apocalypse Now" actor and Quinn have met: As the AP reports, Sheen personally lobbied Quinn to sign the 2011 bill abolishing the death penalty in Illinois.

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