A group of LGBT Conservative Party supporters say they’re making some headway in pushing the federal party to reverse its official stance against same-sex marriage.
LGBTory spent the weekend of March 6, 2016, speaking with hundreds of delegates at Ontario PC party convention, which together drew hundreds of participants from across the country.
Among the weekend’s successes, the group says, was hearing Ontario PC leader Patrick Brown voice support for same-sex marriage, despite opposing it a decade earlier.
“Today I’m proud to support equality in marriage,” Brown told the conference, saying all the federal parties have “evolved.”
In 2006, before entering provincial politics, Brown sat in Parliament and voted with the federal Conservative Party to reopen the same-sex marriage debate, a year after Canada legalized it. “That was part of the federal platform of the day,” Brown said.
Brown also noted he was the first Ontario PC leader to march in the Toronto Pride parade in 2015, in an effort to realign the party, away from social conservativism.
However, Brown has opposed the Ontario Liberal Party’s sex education reform, and also voted three times against initiatives to enshrine gender identity and expression in the Canadian Human Rights Act.
LGBTory says it’s also making progress among Conservative MPs to build support for a motion at the party’s May 2016 convention to remove two clauses from the party’s policy book, which supports “legislation defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman” and calls for a free vote on the definition of marriage.
“Our outreach to MPs is going well — no resistance or blowback, all positive responses,” says Eric Lorenzen, an executive member of the group LGBTory.
Lorenzen says his group has met with at least a dozen MPs who pledged support for the motion, including leadership candidate Maxime Bernier, who is the member of Parliament for Beauce, Quebec.
The group also received a letter from interim leader Rona Ambrose in February 2016 saying she would support the motion if it’s introduced at the May convention.
“The Conservative Party welcomes all conservatives, regardless of sexual orientation,” she wrote. “I place my trust in our party’s members to ultimately make the decision on policy resolutions.”
In a February survey conducted by Daily Xtra, half of the expected Conservative leadership candidates did not comment on whether they would support such a motion, though none of the candidates who replied said they would vote against it.