Why is Same-Sex Marriage Still Up for Debate Among Conservatives?
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Why is Same-Sex Marriage Still Up for Debate Among Conservatives?

Because it's 2016? Nope.

On a sweltering summer day in July 2014, 115 LGBTQ couples gathered at Casa Loma to say their vows and tie the knot. The largest LGBTQ mass wedding in North America’s history, it was a show of pure love and devotion, a ceremony celebrated by faith leaders across a range of religions with Torontonians from around the world.

Two years later, the Conservative Party of Canada is still trying to decide whether or not they support the legislation that allowed these couples to marry.

For years, the Conservative platform has cited marriage as a union between one man and one woman. This, despite the fact that the first same-sex marriage was officiated in Canada nearly 13 years ago.

At the Conservative Party Convention today, members of the party sought modifications to this outdated platform, in hopes of removing references to marriage as a heterosexual union. Party members voted 279-143 to bring the issue to the main convention floor.

But why, after more than a decade of same-sex marriages, after our largest city hosted the biggest mass wedding ceremony for LGBTQ couples, is the Canadian opposition party still debating this issue?

According to the platform, which was last amended in November 2013, the Conservative Party “believe[s] 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.”

Several MPs felt strongly about removing these clauses from the platform. Winnipeg MP Michelle Rempel broke down in tears during a scrum, noting to party members that her cousin is gay and that the Tory stance should be inclusive.

But the Tories are still split: about one-third of those at the convention voted against reviewing the heternormative references from the platform. In particular, Saskatoon MP Brad Trost said the issue is “divisive” and could tear the party apart.

That Conservative party members are still confused about same-sex marriage is dumbfounding. In cities like our own, the union of same-sex couples is commonplace and continues to be widely accepted. These days, LGBTQ activists prefer to spend their energy fighting for more marginalized communities: LGBTQ people of colour, trans and non-binary folk, queer and disabled communities, to name a few.

Even today, it seems, the Tories remain on the wrong side of history. As Justin Trudeau’s Liberal government moves forward to pass a historic bill to protect transgender rights, the opposition continues to fumble with semantics, debating what a marriage union should look like. In a country as diverse as Canada, the answer should be a no-brainer.

The PC convention continues until tomorrow, when the issue will be brought to a vote once more.