Guess who’s coming to dinner? Looks like Bob and Carol and Alice, but not Ted. Ideas matter, and polygamy is a bad one whose time has come.
Some people deny the doorbell is ringing. The Globe and Mail‘s Margaret Wente wrote, “Until [Tory leader Stephen] Harper brought it up, there was no polygamy debate, except on the outer lunatic fringes . . . ” If true, it wouldn’t be very reassuring, given Parliament’s overwhelming vote in favour of traditional marriage in June 1999, and then justice minister Anne McLellan’s assurance that “the definition of marriage [as] ‘the union of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others’ [was] considered clear law by ordinary Canadians, by academics and by the courts” and the House was wasting its time on “a motion, on which, I suspect, there will be no fundamental disagreement inside or outside the House.” Yesterday’s lunatic fringe, today’s orthodoxy. But in any case it’s not true.
Polygamy was not brought up on the outer lunatic fringes. A federal department, Status of Women Canada, suddenly offered a big pile of cash money for quick research hostile to it–and not to help pass the long winter nights. For more than a decade, the British Columbia provincial government has been afraid to crack down on open polygamy amongst some of its more eccentric rural residents for fear of what the courts might do. B.C. Attorney General Geoff Plant just confirmed that two separate confidential legal opinions from senior jurists lay behind his letter to a newspaper in 2003 saying, “The province has questions about the constitutional validity of the Criminal Code provisions that make polygamy a criminal offence.” Some lunatic. Some fringe. Thoughtful citizens must recognize that the gay marriage saga shows our courts to be anything but shy about following modern human rights logic wherever it may lead. Continue Reading →
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