A great editorial from the Ottawa Citizen

No equality in polygamous marriages
Ottawa CitizenDecember 4, 2010
Re: What harms do polygamy laws prevent? Dec. 2.

The legal wrangling over the polygamy practised by a fundamentalist Mormon community in Bountiful, B.C., is obscuring the core issues here. What harm do the polygamy laws prevent? The harm of wiping out the hard-fought battle of Canadian women for gender equality. There is no equality in a polygamous marriage and, therefore, no freedom. Yet some Canadian lawyers argue that the case violates Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and columnist Kate Heartfield seems to think that the Crown is making “a fine mess” in upholding bourgeois Canadian family ideals as “moral.”

Although Heartfield approaches polygamy as a theory of multiple partner sexual relationships and argues that there is no harm if carried out between consenting adults, the B.C. Supreme Court issue deals specifically with polygyny, or the practice of one man having several wives, practised by a sect of Mormon fundamentalists. According to Wikipedia, Mormon fundamentalists “seek to uphold tenets and practices no longer held by mainstream Mormons (members of the LDS Church).” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints now excommunicates members who practise plural marriage. It is not considered a religious right, even by the LDS church.

A large religious group that does permit polygyny is Islam.

If Canadian polygamy laws are struck down, it would be a victory for the proponents of Sharia law in Canada. Islamist and Mormon polygyny are practised in autocracies rather than democracies, and use religion as an expedient for male political power over women, as well as over non-Alpha males. That is unjust. The state may have no place in the nation’s bedrooms, but it does have a crucial place in a just Canadian society.

Elizabeth V. Krug,

Ottawa

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