Sen. Gustavo Rivera is using his primary opponent, Manny Tavarez, as a fundraising tool, sending out an email to supporters yesterday that decries his fellow Democrats’ proclaimed support of “family values,” which include opposition to same-sex marriage and abortion rights.

Rivera said he was “shocked” when a supporter emailed him the following excerpt of Tavarez’s website:

“Manny Tavarez is pro-life. He believes that life begins at conception and wishes that the laws of our state reflected that view…Tavarez believes that marriage is more than a personally rewarding social custom. It is also critical for the well-being of a civilization. That is why Tavarez believes it is so important to preserve traditional marriage – the joining together of one man and one woman.”

“Is that what he’s calling ‘family values’?” Rivera asked, adding that his definition of that phrase includes the “hundreds” of gay couples who live in the Bronx and defense of “essential health services” for women.

Rivera then employed an approach employed by candidates across the nation – from the presidential race on down – seeking to change the subject from controversial social issues to the ecomomy and the creation of good-paying jobs, which, he said, “is what Bronx families need right now.”

“I am proud of the work we have done together to address issues of affordable housing, the need to raise the minimum wage and how to help Bronxites returning from prison to re-enter our community,” Rivera wrote. “But we have more to do, and I need your support.”

“Help me continue that important work by contributing to my campaign, whether it’s $500, $250 or $100 dollars. Let’s continue to work together to bring Bronx values to Albany. New Yorkers will not stand for the divisive politics of the past.”

“It’s 2012. We can’t afford to slip backward to an out-dated definition of family values that leaves thousands of New Yorkers and Bronxites behind. Let’s show my opponent that family values means ALL families.”

The minimum wage issue is turning out to be the gift that keeps on giving for both Democrats and Republicans.

Both sides are using it was a vehicle to play to their respective bases, whether to lament the fact that it didn’t pass, leaving low-income families in the lurch, or to laud the fact that businesses aren’t being forced to pay their hourly employees more in an already difficult economy.