Constitutional fight about polygamy

December 2, 2010

After the government of British Columbia (BC) tried to convict a fundamentalist Mormon sect in Bountiful, BC on charges of polygamy they have moved on to more dangerous grounds.  The government wants the Supreme Court of BC to confirm or deny the constitutionality of Polygamy under the law.  If the court confirms that polygamist relationships should be protected under law, as same sex marriage was in 2005, then a law which has existed over 100 years with the movement of Mormons to Canada in the 1890s will be removed.

It is fascinating to see how this plays out.  I am convinced that the BC court will rule that polygamy should be protected, while illegal underage marriages and abuse should be prosecuted.  If the Canadian courts are to be consistent with the trends over the past 1o years I can see no other reaction.   There seems to be no law against multiple partners, laws were struck down on other definitions of what a marriage entails so there is little that can be said in favour of single partner unions over a multiple partner other than what havoc it will play with divorce and pension laws.

While there are other reasons to be unhappy with what is going on in Bountiful (there are some who are saying things are not so bad others would of course disagree) there is little that can be presented that would justify continuing discrimination under this evaluation.

I think I have been pretty clear that I do not defend anything going on in Bountiful, I have heard a few horror stories that also do not surprise me.  Yet polygamy, either polygyny or polyandry,  as a relationship is seemingly little different from other monogamous relationships that can have abuse and problems.  Of course this could be the tip of a another relationship iceberg and may prove that government sponsorship of marriage in general is just not tenable if what the definition becomes is always legally moved to various more distant goal posts.

This reference case could just be the beginning of a new world for those who believe and practice polygamy.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.