I don’t know if there’s been much published about this, but this is something I’ve been wondering for a little while. In Canada, over the last decade or so, we have seen the gay marriage issue come and go. Many long and hard battles were fought over the right for the definition of “marriage” to include same-sex couples as case after case and appeal after appeal dragged on in court. In the end, the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that the law that limited marriage between a man and a woman was essentially unconstitutional and made it legal in the Spring of 2004. It was a proud moment: I remember exactly where I was when I heard the ruling too, and I’m sure many other homos do as well.
There was much political posturing at the time as this issue was forced front and center by the court case mentioned above; all political parties were forced to take a stance on the issue. The LGBTQ community was certainly focused on getting this passed and kept it in the forefront of politicians minds and in the media spotlight. Politicians needed to decide where they stood- voters needed to decide where they stood. Gay rights issues were everywhere. Many a political career was made and lost. It was a pretty damn exciting time.
While I like to follow politics as it’s an interest of mine, I’m more of an issue-based voter and don’t really associate myself with any one particular political party. AMERICAN FYI: There are four major political parties in Canada- and all you politicos please spare me the comments about how the Green party doesn’t have any seats but gets over 10% of the vote and how the NDP will never form a majority government: they are considered MAJOR parties that have an impact on legislation that is made. Oh, I guess there’s the Bloc Quebecois who are also considered a MAJOR party, but they don’t count to me because I can’t vote for them and I don’t live in Quebec- yes, you have to live in Quebec to vote for the Bloc Quebecois- hmmm, when you try to explain it, I realize that we actually have a lot more complicated political system than I give us credit for. Not that it makes it any more effective, but that’s another topic.
Anyway, what I was basically saying is ever since my first trip to the voting booth almost a decade ago, I have always taken into consideration the local representative or one of the national party’s stance on LGBTQ rights. That has played a huge, if not determining factor in who’s name and party’s box gets my X. And, it’s not just me: my friends (and even family members) have confided that LGBTQ rights like gay marriage have made a difference in their voting choices since their elevation to the political mainstream back in the 90s. Forget about education, forget about health care. Forget about roads and bridges, and tax breaks- if a party is willing to stand up and say that the LGBTQ community deserves to live dignified, self-respecting lives as equals to their fellow citizens, then that is who I will vote for. And, if there are parties out there that try to work in the opposite direction and take any of those hard-fought rights taken away, you better believe they will not have my support nor that of my friends and family.
This brings me to the title of the post. Now that we in Canada are basically there on paper with equal rights for LGBTQ people, it’s not really an issue on anyone’s radar anymore. (SIDE NOTE: admittedly there are still some hurdles to cross, but they are now few and far between; I think we can see the light at the end of the tunnel!). I honestly don’t believe that at this time it would be politically palatable in Canada to bring back those issues and strip away the hard-earned gains achieved by our community in recent times. (Feel free to disagree with me because I know that the stripping away of rights is, in fact, occurring just south of the border unfortunately- keep up the good fight friends!)
However, I believe it’s time to take advantage of the fact that gay marriage is no longer an issue anymore. In a way, I think it’s a great opportunity for us as a collective minority group to stop living in a black and white, liberal and conservative, yes or no world. We now have the opportunity and freedom to pay close attention to what our politicians say about the condition of our local schools, immigrants who have problems getting permanent residency and finding work, the state of our health care system, the national debt, and actually vote on the issues facing our society today. In a way, by taking the deeply emotional fight for personal rights and the right to live our lives the way we are out of the equation, we as a community are left with the opportunity to provoke more discussion and allow more diversity of opinion amongst ourselves.
I’ve seen this shift happen already in my own social circle. I won’t say who, but a close friend of mine (and perhaps a few more) voted in the last election this past year for a party that has traditionally been against advancing gay rights because he says that the gay marriage issue is dead now: it’s a non-issue. He has his equal rights and now he can move on. He considers himself a fiscal conservative and now he has the chance to vote for the party that he feels is much better at handling the economy. Haha, now THAT’S debatable.