Thursday, February 03, 2005

Attorney General Claims Polygamy Law Vulnerable

You may recall the scorn heaped upon those of us who argue same-sex marriage will inevitably lead to the legalization of polygamy. Recall the following comment from CBC News.

Justice Minister Irwin Cotler had earlier denied there was any link between the two issues. "We don't see any connection - I repeat, any connection - between the issue of polygamy and the issue of same-sex marriage," he said Thursday [January 20, 2005].

Or how about Paul Martin's January 22nd ringing assertion that:

"Polygamy is against the law and, as far as I'm concerned, it will always be against the law."

Tip of the hat to Gregl Staples, of Political Staples, for this story. Today we have a Vancouver Sun story (via the National Post) by Peter O'Neil which casts real doubt upon these bold federal Liberal assertions.
Canada's law prohibiting polygamy is vulnerable to a legal challenge and could be struck down because of a conflict with religious freedom, says B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant.

Mr. Plant, whose view is based on confidential legal opinions provided to the B.C. government on two occasions, said he has failed to convince the federal government to amend the anti-polygamy law.

He said the legal opinions have played a major role in the refusal by police over many years to lay charges against polygamists in the B.C. community of Bountiful, where girls as young as 13 have allegedly been forced to become "celestial wives" of much older men. "There might well be a case where the court would have to deal with religious freedoms arguments, and I think there is at least some risk that those arguments might succeed," Mr. Plant said. ...
Later in the story we see these details:

The first legal opinion on polygamy was provided to B.C.'s NDP government in 1992 by retired B.C. Appeal Court judge Richard Anderson.

The judge recommended the federal government scrap the polygamy law and come up with new laws that would "enhance desirable social objectives" without violating the Charter of Rights.

Mr. Plant said he commissioned a second opinion after the Liberals took power in B.C. in 2001. Former B.C. chief justice Allan McEachern agreed that a religious freedom defence will probably result in the law being struck down.
I'll say it again. Once we change the law on marriage to include couples of the same sex, there is no principled basis upon which to object to polygamy, polyandry, or any number of other marital arrangements.

Prepare for the deluge.


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