Countdown To Vancouver
May 1 2016
Dear fellow Conservative:
This is going to be a long letter, so please bear with me. LGBTory Canada is working on a very important civil rights project – defending legal civil marriage in Canada for same-sex couples. We have a very tight schedule and there isn’t much time left. We urgently need your help.
LGBTory Canada is a network of LGBT Conservatives whose mission is to advocate for LGBT people in Conservative parties and to represent Conservative parties to the LGBT community. We have members from coast to coast, in all provinces, men and women, young and old, LGBT and straight, from all walks of life.
Same-sex marriage (SSM) has been legal in Canada since 2005. Since then, over 21 000 Canadian couples have married. The change was contentious in 2005, but since then most Canadians have moved on; 70% of Canadians now support SSM (75% if you ask Canadians under 30 years old). And yet, the Conservative Party of Canada (CPC) still has a 2005 policy in its official Policy Declaration opposing SSM and supporting legislation making SSM illegal again.
For several months now we have been encouraging the CPC to change its policy on SSM at the National Convention in Vancouver, May 26-28. We have put forward a proposal to remove language from section 70 of the CPC’s Policy Declaration which states that the party supports legislation “defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman”.
We are doing this for a number of important reasons:
- We believe that a policy that promises to take away the civil marriage rights of a minority is politically unpopular and an impediment to success in future elections.
- The party’s current SSM policy does not reflect the beliefs of most Canadian voters, Conservative or otherwise.
- We believe that this policy runs counter to the party’s long-standing principle of allowing party members and MPs the freedom to express their views and vote according to their conscience by imposing an official party view on party members and politicians who support SSM.
- Most importantly, as LGBT Conservatives, we view it as a threat to our civil rights that sends a message that we are not welcome in the party, despite our long-standing support for the CPC’s historical stance on such things as the economy, taxes, foreign policy, and individual rights and responsibilities.
I would like to share with you a message that we recently received from a woman in Ontario.
“I am married with three adult children, the oldest of whom is gay. He is getting married to his partner in late June. My brother-in-law is also gay. He chooses not to be married. Just like straight people, the choice should be up to the individual.
I haven't voted Liberal since Trudeau Sr.. I don't like the Liberal policy of spend, spend, spend. I have been a Conservative now for many years; however, I am a Red Tory. Fiscally, I am Conservative (I don't believe in wasting my money, nor do I want the government to waste it), but socially, I am quite liberal (small "l") in my views. I had a real issue with some of Harper's right-wing social policies and felt like my voice had gotten lost in the crowd.
I like your initiative and think it's the right way for the party to go. This country is not comfortable with extreme views. I suspect many voted for Trudeau because he seemed fairly harmless, not that they are particularly comfortable with his policies.
If members of the Conservative Party vote against same-sex marriage, I'm afraid they will be condemning the party to obscurity. The tide has turned whether people like it or not.”
We get messages of support like this all the time, from gay and straight Canadians alike. We believe we are on the right side of history, and that most members of the CPC want this change to happen.
However, we are up against organized opposition from social conservatives and the religious right. They are mobilizing their supporters and sending delegates to Vancouver to push their ideological agenda and, among other things, to oppose any attempts to change the party’s policy on SSM. As they recently communicated on their website:
“We'll need pro-life/family delegates to vote against a dangerous resolution by a gay-activist organization called LGBTory. The passage of this anti-family resolution could potentially demoralize the Party's social conservative base, and at the same time, open the door for socially liberal red tories to begin advocating that the CPC adopt the same position as the Liberals and NDP ... This convention is nothing less than a battle for the soul of the Conservative Party.”
We’ve been called a lot of things by our opponents: “gay activists” and “homosexualist agitators”, for example. Let me tell you who we really are. We are Canadians from all walks of life. We are university students, retirees, small business owners, lawyers, teachers, civil servants, blue-collar workers, Christians, Jews, Muslims, atheists, men, women, trans people, gays and heterosexuals. In short, we are a microcosm of Canadian society. But above all, we are Conservatives, and we’re tired of being told by the CPC that, despite our life-long support for the party and its principles, our relationships are not valued and our civil rights are of no importance.
But we are NOT Liberals or NDP supporters. We are Conservatives, and we are saddened that our party has taken this regressive stance on SSM while the rest of the country has moved on, and we are advocating for change. We too are mobilizing our supporters.
We have had our proposal approved at CPC regional policy meetings in Alberta, Quebec, and Toronto, and we are confident that it will come to a vote at the convention. A number of us are going to Vancouver as delegates to fight for this. We believe strongly that we are doing the right thing, both for LGBT people and for the CPC.
But we urgently need your help. There are a number of things you can do to make your voice heard to the party leadership:
- Write to your Conservative MP and express your support for this policy change.
- If you are a CPC party member, contact your EDA and tell them what you think.
- Contact the CPC’s National Council member for your province and let them know how you feel about this issue.
- Get in touch with the candidates who are running for the CPC National Council in your province and ask them to publicly support SSM.
If you want to help us in this important initiative, consider supporting us with a donation. This campaign is very expensive, and every dollar counts. You can contribute here or send a cheque payable to LGBTory Canada to 10 Sherbourne St N, Toronto, ON, M4W 2T2. All donations will be used to help us to stand up for you at the convention.
Finally, if you are going to Vancouver, we need your help now. If you are a delegate to the convention, or know someone who is a delegate and can be counted on when the crucial vote happens, please contact me ateric@LGBTory.ca . We need to make sure that our voices are heard at the time when it is most important.
Thank you for support. The convention is less than a month away, but with your help we can make this happen.
VP – Communications