Sunday, June 12, 2011

This is our government.

I am sure that I am not the only Canadian who took the events of May 2nd with a little bit of concern. When Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada made history, becoming the first majority Conservative government elected to power since the 80s, there was a sensation in the country. Not many people were happy it seemed.

But there was also a sigh. No more elections, for four years. Some stability. Certain stability. For four years.

A sigh of concern, or a sigh of relief?

I'm not going to complain about the government, or about how Canada needs to reorganize their electoral laws to be more representative of the population.

Instead I am going to make a note about the Conservative Party of Canada.

The CPC just finished their national convention, where they surely celebrated their recent victory and thought of ways that they could take this chance as a means of organizing how they are going to socially reconstruct society. Which is the ultimate result of any election - particularly those that result in a majority.

And we are on the chopping block, it seems.

Buried in this CBC News Report on the results of the convention is the following couple paragraphs:

...delegates passed a resolution saying the party supports the freedom of religious organizations to refuse to perform same-sex marriages or allow the use of their facilities for events incompatible with their faith and beliefs.

The resolution changed the wording of an existing party policy on gay marriage, which said the Conservative "government" supported legislation saying marriage is between one man and one woman, with delegates voting to change it to say the Conservative Party supports the move.

The resolutions set party policy but are not binding on the government.

Gay marriage has long been a thorn in the side of the party and an issue opposition parties have used to paint the Tories as behind the times. Canadian courts started the process of allowing gay marriage in 2003 and the Liberal government in 2005 passed a law making it legal.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper allowed a free vote on a motion whether to re-open the same-sex marriage debate in the House of Commons soon after the Conservatives took power in 2006. After the motion was defeated, Harper said he didn't want to revisit the issue.

But the ability of religious organizations to be able to say no to performing the ceremonies has been an irritant to the party's grassroots supporters.

It is important to note that party resolutions are not binding on government policy. Indeed, as the right to marry has been passed in the courts already as a Human Right (happening even before we had the legal right to marry, in 2003 rather than 2005), it would take a complete reshuffling of the Supreme Court of Canada in favour of Conservative seats. Which just happened.

Still, I am not overly concerned. Unless Harper wins in 2015.

Regardless, we should make it clear to people - to our friends and family - that this party does not support us having the right to marry. I will be sure to tell my few conservative friends in the coming weeks that their party does not view my ability to love as equal or as legitimate as their own - and that this prejudice has been formalized in party documentation. I hope you do the same.

Knowing somebody who is gay only gets us so far - using our relationships to help people understand how we exist in the world gets us so much farther.

For example - earlier this week my farther told me that I had gotten a phone call from the Canadian Blood Services.

'They want your blood'
'No they don't.'
'They say that they do.'
'I can't give blood anymore.'
'Why not?'
(insert snarky tone suggesting that he should already know this)
'Because I'm gay, dad.'

Silence. (and it is not because he didn't know I was gay)

That changed how he understood my relationship with the world around me. And that is regarding my right to give blood, not my right to marry...