get government out of marriage biz
POLYGAMY IS A (AL)RIGHT
Bruce Korol is a
lawyer and writer in Calgary.
his article, "It's inevitable: The courts will legalize
polygamy" (Ottawa Citizen, April 7), David Warren
laments the foregone conclusion that courts will legalize polygamy,
and rails against the constitutional climate that has made it
why is polygamy criminalized in the first place and why are
conservatives like Warren so adamant in keeping it that way?
A 2006 study by three law professors at Queen's University concluded
that criminalizing polygamy serves no useful purpose; polygamy
is rarely prosecuted, and anti-polygamy laws likely violate
the guarantee of freedom of religion.
also has a history that predates monogamy by thousands of years,
yet polygamists remain unfairly persecuted in North America.
is present in many cultures, and given its past religious importance
there's no doubt it's a legitimate religious belief, Warren's
the arrangement is among consenting adults then the government
has no legitimate authority in interfering in the relationship.
It's extremely problematic for the state to wield its coercive
power against polygamy without clear evidence of an actual crime.
polygamists' claim for legal recognition is bolstered by same-sex
marriage. Winston Blackmore will cite gay marriage laws in his
defense, which is a scenario that was predicted by many critics
-- such as David Warren -- when same-sex marriage was legalized.
two men or two women wish to marry each other and it infringes
on no one else's rights, then the government shouldn't stop
them. Same thing goes for polygamy. Consensual adults should
be free to marry whomever they please.
contradictions are apparent and polygamists see it as an issue
of unequal treatment under the law.
the Utah ban on polygamy was challenged in 2004 (a challenge
that was eventually dismissed), Dani Eyer, executive director
of the ACLU of Utah, said the state will "have to step
up to prove that a polygamous relationship is detrimental to
society . . . There's no denying that thousands and thousands
are doing that here and will maintain that it's healthy . .
. The model of the nuclear family as we know it in the immediate
past is unique, and may not be necessarily be the best model.
Maybe it's time to have this discussion.''
practice might be frowned on but one doesn't have to condone
the practice to recognize the heavy-handed senselessness of
more important argument for polygamy is that government should
stay out of marriage.
have refused to acknowledge the state and its intrusion into
their private affairs, and so they should. There's no legitimate
reason for the government to dispense morality edicts on what
is properly the private sphere.
impending court battle allows pro-family advocates who were
against same-sex marriage to bring up the same public-policy
talking points, but someone's private marriage isn't a matter
for public debate. This is something gays didn't comprehend
when they begged the government to legally recognize their relationships
and it's something the traditionalists miss when they want to
be the only ones to have their marriages granted state legitimacy.
marriage should be between those involved in a committed relationship
without state interference. David Boaz, executive vice-president
of the Cato Institute, had this to say in a 1997 article calling
for the privatization of marriage: "If they wanted to contract
for a traditional breadwinner/homemaker setup, with specified
rules for property and alimony in the event of divorce, they
could do so. Less traditional couples could keep their assets
separate and agree to share specified expenses. Those with assets
to protect could sign prenuptial agreements that courts would
respect. Marriage contracts could be as individually tailored
as other contracts are."
adults choose relationships that work for them whether they
are monogamous or polyamorous.
Warren is wrong and the anti-polygamy law eventually will be
considered valid because it protects women and children and
promotes "Canadian values." British Columbia Attorney-General
Wally Oppal might also be right when he claims that most Canadians
find polygamy morally repugnant. But neither personal feelings
nor constitutional parsing should dissuade us from this essential
point: Government should stay out of the marriage business --
and that includes marital structures the majority disapprove
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