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Reviewing the Marriage Laws

The flap continues over same sex marriage here in Ontario.  The letters page in this morning’s Citizen was wall to wall opinions on the topic.  Now Ernie Eves is weighing in during the election despite the fact that marriage is federal territory, and not provincial at all.

Around our house we’ve had pretty spirited debates on the topic as well.  We reflect the electorate, 50% in favour and 50% opposed, and we’ve debated just about every angle the politicians have thought of, and some they haven’t, and (feeling somewhat smug about it) usually in advance of reading the latest "thoughtful stance" from the pols in the papers.

Although I favour legalized same-sex marriages, I am concerned that the approach the government is taking is the slippery slope to legalizing polygamous unions.  Initially, I dismissed the idea that this might lead to legalized polygamy as fear-mongering on the part of those opposed to gay marriage.  Out of curiousity, however, I googled "polygamy Canada".  Wow! The National Post published a piece about a year ago in which the government lawyers in BC have apparently asserted that the Criminal Code prohibition on polygamy would fail the Charter of Rights test.  This piece in the Report asserts that polygamy is already defacto legal in Canada, and that the marriage laws are a "hodgepodge".

It seems clear that there will be a Charter challenge at some point.  Rather than propose a simple law legalizing same-sex marriages, rubberstamping what the courts have already done, the government should be rethinking and rewriting all of the legislation on marriage. 

As an aside, why oppose polygamy and support same-sex marriage?   Rights groups, like Tapestry Against Polygamy, contend that physical and sexual abuse are common, and that the women are forced into marriages at a very early age, for the sole purpose of bearing as many children as possible.  This is slavery, not a marriage. Moreover, unlike homosexuality, the practice of polygamy is a lifestyle choice.  Polygamists can choose not to be polygamist – gay people can’t choose not to be gay.


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