If there has been one single issue that has managed to beat the hell out of conservatives for the last ten years it unquestionably has been that of sexual orientation (I wont list the alphabet of orientations for reasons I will explain later).
We organize, we gain steam, we gain momentum, we begin to gain public trust and then some sort of issue related to sexual orientation raises its head and conservatives manage to self-destruct.
These issues are not going away. There is a reason that the left won’t let go on these issues when dealing with conservatives. It is because IT WORKS!
Beating conservatives over the head over and over again with the whole gay rights thing seems to be tiring and shallow but it works like a charm and we have to get out of this damned rut. The reason that smearing conservatives as being anti-gay is so effective is that the vast majority of the voting public have utterly no problem with gay people or their getting to enjoy every benefit and happiness in life. People are tired of the thankfully old fashioned intolerance that society held towards people of different sexual orientations and they will not vote for any party or movement that appears to be propagating that pathetic old intolerance. If conservatives want to win elections, they simply have to get these damned issues behind them.
What will it take though?
Those of us who have been running in conservative issues for years know that the intolerance held towards gays is held by a tiny but infuriatingly vocal minority. It seems that whenever we are doing well, some dumb asshole feels that they need to tell the world how they hate gays even if it has nothing to do with the discussion at hand.
Last weekend we saw history made as the Wildrose and Progressive Conservative Parties merged. As this great moment was progressing, a woman took her time to wait to speak at the open microphone. She managed to be the last speaker in the debate and in keeping with the usual homophobic types, just felt that she had to let the world know that she had issues with gay people despite this not being the issue at hand.
The press of course gleefully tweeted this incident to the world as can be seen below.
Left wing politicians took advantage of this within minutes to use the ramblings of this woman to try and smear the entire movement as being anti-gay (he did this because it works).
While this issue didn’t dominate the headlines post merger, it soiled it. A brand spanking new party has just emerged from the gates and this woman has managed to bring gay rights issues front and center before it on day one.
THIS SHIT HAS TO STOP!
To begin with, we need utter and total zero tolerance on anti-gay shit. I understand and respect free speech as much (possibly more) than the next person. People have the right to spew that intolerant crap to their little hearts desire. This does not mean that political parties are obligated to give a platform to these people for their views or keep those people within the party if they demonstrate such views. Parties are private entities and they can and should put some restrictions on membership.
If a person was at an open microphone or constantly on social media and they constantly railed about black people by calling them “niggers” or calling Asian people “chinks” and that person was found to be a member of a party, do you think folks would be upset if the person was kicked out of the party? Most people would totally understand and support a party disassociating itself with this kind of person. Well, the term “fag” and anti gay tirades are right up there with the racist crap these days and while some free speech purists may yelp about it, there simply is no room in any modern party for that shit anymore. It is unfortunate that there ever was.
There needs to be an unapologetic expunging of anti-gay people from conservative movents or they will continue to hijack the agenda whenever they can.
This isn’t as clear cut as it sounds of course (nothing ever is). Members have a right to question what their children may be taught in sex ed courses. These members may be uncomfortable with the way same sex issues are presented and in questioning these things it does not make them anti-gay (or at least certainly not to the point where they should be ejected for voicing concerns). It will take judgement and a strong disciplinary committee to address things case by case but it really wont be tough to eject the most egregious of offenders.
There are fringe right parties and movements out there for those who feel that gay rights should be fought. Those who want to go that route are more than welcome to go there. The voting public will dispose of the dozen or so candidates that they manage to field in a general election quickly enough.
Next: We need to reach out to and bring in gay conservatives.
Just because a person is gay, it doesn’t mean that they are socialists. There are countless gay professionals and business people who are just as tired of high taxes and bloated government. I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to be strongly fiscally conservative but unable to pursue it politically because the conservative partisan vehicles retain such anti-gay attitudes among some of their membership.
I was naive on these issues when I really started getting involved with provincial organizing. When my wife Jane and I got involved with the Alberta Alliance (precursor of the Wildrose Party), it had perhaps 2000 members, a few thousand dollars in the bank and a lone MLA sitting in the legislature. We did strongly feel that the PC government was drifting too far left in high spending and entitlement and wanted to work to build an alternative to the PCs. The party retained some unfortunate hold over policies such as one against gay marriage at that time. It took quite a battle on Jane’s part but in the end with a strong majority the members Jane’s motion was supported and that odious policy was stricken from the books.
Being in such a nascent movement with such potential and seeing a move away from hard line social conservatism, I had what I thought to be a revelation. I wanted us to actively court gay people in the gay community. I saw an untapped resource of members/volunteers/donors and with our party being so small, such an influx would be a great resource in our growth.
During this period, Jane and I went for supper at the home of some party organizing types. I wanted to recruit them as we worked to build this little party. Over our meal we enjoyed political discussion on how the PC spending needed to be reined in and things such as direct democracy. My naivete was more than a little shattered however when I opened the subject on how I wanted to reach out to the gay community. The room went cold and things were immediately awkward. I swear I could have blown my nose into the mashed potatoes and still would not have caused such a pall in the room. I really didn’t realize just how deeply some (otherwise rational and friendly) people held their bizarre anti-gay feelings. Needless to say, we left not long afterwards and I honestly don’t think we have crossed paths with that couple again.
Now if just talking about reaching out to gay members got that kind of reaction in a room, how the hell must it feel to be a gay individual or couple in a room with those kind of people? Yes, people like that couple are a tiny minority in the party but it only takes a few of them to make some people feel really uncomfortable. How many sidelong glances do gay people need to endure at meetings? How many conversations go silent when they join the group?
We need to change our culture in order to make people of all sexual orientations feel genuinely welcome. I think we have made massive inroads since my ill fated supper some 12 years ago but we need to work hard to ensure that these awkward moments no longer happen.
I am not talking about gathering token gay people by the way. I am talking about seeking and bringing in conservatives and utilizing them as active members. Sure my goal is self serving in the sense of the party. I see assets as donors/volunteers that we are ignoring to our own detriment.
We have gay members already and I have known a number of gay staff members in the party over the years. How much crap have they had to force themselves to overlook in order to participate though? We saw a hint of it just a little while ago when a staffer announced he was going to represent the party in a pride parade. It was only a handful of people and a few may not even have actually been party members, but there was a vulgar and visceral reaction to his announcement. Some folks were pissed about the messages sent to the fellow but felt that he never should have spoken up. How much should he endure silently? How much should other gay people put up with? Speaking up is the best way to put this issues out.
Next: actions speak louder than words.
If the left doesn’t set a trap with gay rights issues for conservatives, we seem to be determined to seek them out and step in them ourselves.
In 2013 at a Wildrose AGM a policy motion was proposed that would entrench support for the rights of LGTBQ into policy. The motion never made it past the plenary stage as members discussed and felt is was too prescriptive and pointless as we already had a policy supporting rights for “all” which was considered sufficient.
I remember it so clearly. Rob Anderson and a few folks were in the back of the room and they were totally aflutter. Apparently this motion didn’t come from the membership. This came from on high within the party. They had plans to trumpet it and celebrate it after the AGM but the members overwhelmingly shot it down (because it was misguided and to be frank, fucking stupid).
This happened rather quietly. Not many people pay attention to these kind of plenary meetings. Still, while gay rights were not really a pressing issue at this AGM, these senior thinkers within the party simply wouldn’t let it go. They rattled together a non-binding motion to the same effect and railroaded it through the convention the next day. It was rehearsed and rammed through fast. They stacked the pro microphone with a lineup while limiting debate. They sped through the motion and to be honest pissed off the gathered membership who felt pushed but went along for the ride.
This was not enough for our brilliant planners (keep in mind these are the great strategists who thought joining Prentice the next year would be a good idea). Yes, they felt emboldened after forcing through their motion so they rammed it into policy discussions again in 2014. Not a damn thing had changed and the membership had had enough. They wisely and yes yet again tossed this stupid policy into the trash.
The shit hit the fan of course. Reports were made that the Wildrose membership had rejected gay rights and the party was needlessly smeared as being anti-gay yet again.
Yes, those brilliant folks leading the party at that time decided that if the left was not going to beat us up on gay issues, we had to seek them out and create the issues.
No other major party lists every group that they respect the rights of. There is a reason for this. It is damned stupid and only sets things up for being bigoted by exclusion. I think it was LGQTQ at the time of our policy follies. Now folks need to add the number 2. Would we need to amend policy to include that number now? Would we be considered bigots until we did? What about those who now identify as “gender fluid” or “gender queer”? Why didn’t we cover them? Should we then make a policy for every race? What if we miss one? What about mixed races? What about religions? Are all of them large enough to list or will we need to parse them out?
Seriously, stick will supporting human rights for ALL and we will be just fine. No need to apologize.
Putting up fluff window dressing such as that crappy policy is akin to the racist who always has to reference a black friend. It is talk but not action and the constant contorting and pissing around with policy makes it look like we are indeed glossing over things.
Something else to remember: IT WILL NEVER BE ENOUGH!
Look, Brian Jean and Jason Kenney could spend two hours on a float in a pride parade while in full passionate coitus and the left would say that the party is full of bigots because they didn’t kiss convincingly enough.
Look at the left is attacking Interim Leader Cooper on next to no basis and is still demanding his resignation despite his having explained where he is at with things as per their demands. It doesn’t matter. They will call the party anti-gay and smear Cooper no matter what he does.
In that case, quit apologizing. Don’t walk into leftist traps and demands. We are confident that we are in a tolerant party and will be more so the longer we act like it.
A presence at pride events is a great idea as long as it is genuine. There are plenty within the party who will happily attend. It is not a cardinal sin not to attend as well. These pride events are increasingly being dominated by extreme political elements and to be honest, I think it is getting near time for public officials to begin refusing to attend until the gay community brings the events back into their original purpose (but I digress). Just don’t apologize. It implies that something was done wrong and as I said, it will never be enough.
The NDP and their supporters are trying to keep a strong appearance up but it is clear that the success of the unity movement has them terrified. The Notley Regime can’t point to their great governance and wise fiscal management in hopes of justifying their re-election. They can only point to the opposition and try to label them as intolerant in hopes of scaring the electorate away from them.
The howls of bigotry and intolerance are losing their impact as the left tosses them at people for everything from “man spreading” to cultural appropriation through yoga. All the same, people have little use for real intolerance and if conservatives display any of it the left will pounce with all they are worth. We have to stop giving them bullets.
It will take more than parade appearances, policy tweaks and constant apologies to blunt the accusations of homophobia directed towards conservatives. It will take a cultural change within the entire movement. I think we are well on the way there but we clearly still have a way to go.
If the clarion call of “intolerance” loses its power, Notley hasn’t a hope in hell against a united conservative party.
Its up to us.