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Stephen Harper's same-sex marriage attack has gay community on alert

Mike Tidmus

Canadian Conservative nut Stephen Harper‘s opening salvo in his campaign was to say that if the Conservatives returned to power it would be a priority for the government would allow a free vote in the Commons on restoring the traditional definition of marriage.

As you can imagine, this has many in the gay community angry, after a hard-fought battle to win marriage equality. (CP):

“The initial (reaction) was total paranoia in my circles,” said Michael Hendricks, a Montreal gay-rights activist who married his longtime partner Rene Lebeouf in 2004. The issue dominated discussion among the couple’s friends for days, until logic prevailed.

“Somebody finally had the intelligent idea to remember that Harper isn’t elected yet,” said Hendricks. “That seemed to secure everybody. They quieted down and the subject hasn’t come up again. Just that one shot.”

For Vancouver’s gay community, Harper’s words are very much a live issue. Jim Deva, co-owner of the controversial Little Sisters Book and Art Emporium, says Harper made the comments early in the campaign for good reason – namely to shore up support among gay marriage opponents while hoping the broader electorate simply forgets the issue by election day.

“I see it as our job, the (gay) community’s job, to just keep bringing the issue forward, that this is a constitutional challenge,” said Deva. “This isn’t just about marriage, this is about what the Constitution means to you.”

While Harper, if elected, would allow a free Commons vote on the definition of marriage, he promised not to challenge the 3,000 gay marriages already in place in Canada nor invoke the notwithstanding clause of the Constitution to overturn the law. “I assume it means he’s written off the gay community,” Anton Wagner, a documentary filmmaker, said while sitting in the Toronto coffee shop with Kerr.

Well, maybe up north of the border he’d lose the gay vote; here he’d still manage to get 20-25% of it, as Bush did.

Thanks to Blender Cat for the pointer.

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