10 January 2016
The Honourable Rona Ambrose
Leader of the Opposition
House of Commons Ottawa
ON K1A 0A6
I am writing on behalf of LGBTory, a group of LGBT Conservatives who are working to support Conservative political allies and to help provincial and federal Conservative parties develop policies in areas of concern to LGBT constituents. I am asking for your advice and support in urging the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) to change its official policy on same-sex marriage.
Although the Conservative government of Prime Minister Harper, between 2006 and 2015, made no attempt to change the law that has legalized same-sex marriage since 2005, we are concerned that the CPC’s 2013 Policy Declaration, approved by the CPC National Council, contains the following language in Section K (Social Policy) Sub-section 70 (Family and Marriage):
- We believe that Parliament, through a free vote, and not the courts should determine the definition of marriage.
- We support legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman.
This policy is a significant obstacle to the acceptance of the Conservative message by voters who would otherwise be attracted to the party’s stance on economic, security, and foreign policy issues. Most of us have had encounters with people for whom the Conservative vision resonates strongly but who are repelled by a social-conservative policy on same-sex marriage. We can point out to them that the CPC made no promises to change the legal definition of marriage in three consecutive election campaigns and introduced no such legislation in almost ten years as the government of Canada, but we cannot escape the fact that the CPC’s official policy is to deny marriage to same-sex couples.
We oppose the policy for a number of important reasons:
- It is inconsistent with fundamental Conservative beliefs that all Conservatives share, including the following which are stated in the Policy Declaration’s “Founding Principles”:
- A belief in the equality of all Canadians
- A belief in the freedom of the individual, including freedom of speech, worship and assembly
- A belief that the best guarantors of the prosperity and well-being of the people of Canada are the freedom of individual Canadians to pursue their enlightened and legitimate self interest
- A belief that it is the responsibility of individuals to provide for themselves, their families and their dependents
- The important functions of the institution of marriage, which all Conservatives support, should not be denied to LGBT citizens. These include the stabilizing and settling of young people, the provision of reliable care-givers, and the raising of children.
- There are, according to 2011 census data, 64 575 same-sex couples in Canada, 21 015 of which are married. A change in the status of marriage, 10 years after it was extended to same-sex partners, would throw the legal status of a significant number of Canadians into chaos.
- There are 9 600 children under the age of 24 being raised by same-sex couples in Canada. Most of them are the biological children of one of the partners. The interests of these children are best served when marriage is available to their guardians.
A 2015 Forum Research poll found that 70% of Canadians support legalized same-sex marriage. That figure rises to 75% in the 18-34 age category. The overwhelming majority of Canadians, in all regions and across all age groups, supports same-sex marriage. We believe that an official CPC policy denying marriage to same-sex couples puts the party on the wrong side of history and is a serious obstacle to electability, especially with young people. It must be removed from the CPC Policy Statement.
Support for same-sex marriage from Conservative MPs in the past, including Cabinet ministers John Baird, Jim Flaherty, Peter MacKay, Lawrence Cannon, Jim Prentice, James Moore, Lisa Raitt, Kellie Leitch, Bal Gosal, Josée Verner, and David Emerson, suggests that there is significant desire for change within the party.
It is our intention that a delegation from LGBTory attend the CPC’s Vancouver National Convention in May to work toward the goal of changing the party’s policy on same-sex marriage. We believe that support from you and other Conservative Members of Parliament will have a huge impact at the convention.
We urge the CPC to bring its policies in line with the beliefs of a large majority of Canadians. We are asking for your support and advice on this important matter, and would like to open a conversation with you and the party on how best to move forward.
LGBTory Rainbow Conservatives of Canada