History was made at the CPC on Saturday when the party removed the definition of marriage as “between one man and one woman” from the Conservative Party Policy Declaration.
The group driving the change are called LGBTory, an organization of LGBT conservatives and allies.
A few days ago I met them at their pub gathering, next to the Vancouver Convention center. They go by the tagline the "Rainbow Conservatives," an apt slogan given the colourful individuals that form this group.
This spectrum of characters included the jovial giant Eric Lorenzen, VP Communications for the group, who told me:
"The thought of having to get a licence from the government to get married really sticks in my craw. However, we have the legal system that we have, and marriage isn't going away. Our position is that, since the government licences marriage, the CPC's official policy to deny marriage licences to same-sex couples infringes on the legal rights of same-sex couples."
He went on to say:
"More than that, our biggest concern is that the CPC's policy on marriage (they're the only party with ANY policy on marriage of any kind) repels centrist voters who would otherwise be our allies on issues like small government, individual rights, low taxes, etc. These voters are essential to winning elections."
I also spoke to the president of the group, business owner Doc Von Lichtenberg. With a Gandalf-like beard and enchanting deep voice, he was as interesting a man as his name suggests. He told me:
"We don't want to change the CPC's marriage policy; we want the CPC to have NO marriage policy whatsoever. We want the contentious articles in the Policy Declaration removed, not replaced with something else."
Not everyone at the gathering was gay. I also spoke to some of the straight allies Natalie Pon (Edmonton West Policy Chair) and Joseph Heap (President of Fort McMurray-Cold Lake), co-sponsors of the resolution.
“We want to remove having marriage defined in the CPC policy declaration. It currently states that the Party supports legislation defining marriage as between one man and one woman” said Natalie.
“We want to create a more inclusive party that supports personal freedoms.” said Joseph. “It's time to get rid of this part of our policy declaration and move on. All leadership contestants to date have been supportive and we don't see this becoming an issue again in the future."
LGBTory should be proud of what they have achieved today. And I’m sure I speak for everyone in the LGBT community in expressing our gratitude.
(PHOTO: Natalie Pon, Joseph Heap and other LGBTory members)