Last year, I wrote about and supported efforts to remove opposition to same-sex marriage from Conservative Party of Canada’s policy declaration.
I watched proudly as Rona Ambrose, Patrick Brown, Maxime Bernier, Michelle Rempel, Lisa MacLeod and others stood up for and supported LGBTQ rights. And I was proud to take in the Ottawa Pride Parade with a large group of conservatives.
LGBTories have become a fixture at Conservative events, and The Big Blue Tent is always one of the biggest and best events at Conservative conventions. The Party has come a very long way.
But today I wonder – have we come far enough?
An Abacus Data poll asked Canadians to do some word association with the Conservative Party and the results were shocking.
Of those who answered, 73% per cent say the Conservative Party is “old-fashioned.” Another 61% say Conservatives “favour some over others.” And most tellingly, 52% say Conservatives support “government laws to restrict freedom.”
These results are terrible news for the Conservative Party and its brand. This Party lists among its founding principles “a belief in the equality of all Canadians” and “a belief in the freedom of the individual.” So why do so many Canadians think Conservatives want to restrict their freedoms?
The answer for many Canadians is simple: if you do not support same-sex marriage, you do not support individual freedoms. Period. And that’s a totally fair assessment – the right to love and marry whomever you want is one of the most important freedoms we have.
As I wrote last year, many people my age equate “conservative” with “homophobic.”
And guess what? By the next federal election in 2019, millennials will be the largest portion of the electorate. Many of those voters will never even consider the Conservative Party as an option, simply because of the same-sex marriage issue.
Not opposing same-sex marriage is not the same as supporting same sex marriage. And “the issue is settled” is not a good enough response from our leadership team.
We need to do better.
Supporting same-sex marriage is the right thing to do. And we may never win another election if we don’t. It doesn’t matter how strong we are on other issues if Canadians think we are going to discriminate against their LGBTQ brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, friends, and family.
So, is it time for the Conservative Party of Canada to officially support same-sex marriage? With a policy convention coming up in 2018, I believe the time to start that discussion is now.
Leave a comment below with your thoughts. I’d love to hear from you!