“Let people be whoever they are.”

That’s the sentiment in a column by Emma Teital on the Toronto Star site with the headline Being gay is not a choice but who cares if it is?

She was reacting to Canadian Conservative leadership hopeful Richard Décarie, who told a CTV interviewer recently that he feels being gay is a choice.

It’s a question that shouldn’t be asked anymore, Teital says. It should be irrelevant.

But Décarie says he feels that “government has a responsibility to encourage the traditional values we have had for the past years.”

You know what he is talking about.

Teital explains it this way:

It’s important to note that when social conservatives suggest there is a choice element to being gay, they’re not usually suggesting same-sex attraction is a choice. They’re suggesting same-sex attraction can be successfully suppressed.

Ain’t that the truth?

There is undoubtedly a percentage of the population that would like to see same-sex attraction suppressed, as well as the rights of trans people and other members of the LGBTQ communities. They would also take away abortion rights and myriad other things that don’t fit in with their narrow, superstitious biblical views: feminism, divorce, cannabis, alcohol, tobacco, lotteries, casinos and on and on and on.

But just how many social conservatives are there in Canada?

I don’t know the answer to that question, but I think they are a small minority nationwide, with the highest concentration reportedly in Alberta, according to a Wikipedia entry.

Certainly, it would be an unfair generalization to say that everyone who votes for the Conservative Party of Canada is a social conservative. I know LGBTQ folks who have voted for the Conservatives because they agree with the party’s approach to fiscal policies and the like.

Still, there will always be some who don’t trust the Conservatives and will fear the party will backslide to the 1950s, thanks to a few social Conservatives who can be very, very vocal at times.

A parallel can be made with a group called A Million Moms in the United States. It turns out it is actually only one mom, according to a recent GLAAD report by Jeremy Hooper. But she gets a lot of ink, thanks to media willing to play up anything that will generate clicks to their websites.

Writes GLAAD:

It is basically One Meddling Mom with an agenda, and no company should be giving her the credence she so desperately craves. Her name is Monica Cole. In the decade that I have been aware of One Million Moms, she is quite literally the only staff member I have ever heard anyone name. She is the one and only person who appears on their petitions, as well as the one and only person who speaks for them to the media. She is the mom. Her. Solo. One person, supposedly representing one million.

The U.S., of course, has far more social conservatives than Canada has, and many of them are politicians pushing bills to suppress the rights of LGBTQ people and others.

But that can’t happen in Canada. We have settled LGBTQ issues and abortion issues, etc. Rights are enshrined. Social conservatives and others who sympathize with some of their beliefs have zero chance of undoing the laws.

Nevertheless, they will still be vocal — and hateful, in some cases, especially in such social media settings as Twitter and private blogs. And they will still get some ink in mainstream media ever looking for controversies to draw clicks to their sites.

But the vast majority of Canadians will tune them out — because life really is short, and there are so many better things to think about.

As for the CTV interview with Décarie, a case could be made for asking him the question about same-sex marriage because it has been a big issue for outgoing Conservative leader Andrew Scheer that probably cost him the last election and, hence, his job as party leader. And give Décarie credit for being honest about his views, even though that honesty will certainly eliminate him as a serious leadership candidate — if he ever was a serious candidate at all.

As I mentioned in an earlier post with the headline Are Canada’s Conservatives rooting out their dinosaurs?, there is more to this than meets the eye. I suspect the party is trying to put the whole issue of same-sex marriage behind them by forcing all of their base to fall in line.

Unlike Andrew Scheer, you can be sure the new leader of the Conservatives will walk alongside other party leaders in Pride Parades in Canada’s major cities this summer.

— Jillian