Polygamy approacheth

Canada is almost a liberal utopia with socialized medicine, oppressive gun control, no death penalty and gay marriage. Of course I have to qualify the utopian potential of our neighbor to the north with “almost” because Canada also has a state religion.

And Canada may be leading the way for all western nations as they seriously consider de-criminalizing the practice of polygamy. It couldn’t happen to a nicer country.

It seems there’s a Mormon fella in Bountiful named Winston Blackmore, who has 19 wives and more than 100 children. Oh yes, that’s Bountiful, British Columbia, not our beloved Top of Utah Bountiful.

Unlike the circumspect polygamists who live in Bountiful, Utah, Blackmore of Bountiful, B.C., lives quite openly with his wives and some eleven baseball teams worth of kids. Incidentally, I’m not impressed by Blackmore et al’s fertility. My great-grandfather sired over four baseball teams worth of kids with only four wives.

At any rate, Canadian authorities have had a dickens of a time enforcing their anti-polygamy laws. The current case against Brother Blackmore is defended on the basis that the anti-polygamy laws violate both freedom of religion and association guaranteed in the Canadian Charter of Rights. Come to think of it, American authorities are not enforcing the anti-polygamy laws already on the books. And our local polygamists could defend their convivial lifestyle on the basis that anti-polygamy laws violate both freedom of religion and association guaranteed in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.

And there’s no court in Canada or the USA that will rule that a Moslem can’t practice polygamy in accordance with Sharia.

Legal polygamy approacheth.

I wonder what will happen to the excuse I’ve heard hundreds of times, “We don’t practice polygamy because it’s against the law.”?

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10 Responses to Polygamy approacheth

  1. Bob Becker says:

    In re: “legal polygamy approaches.”

    I wonder what that means, exactly? Merely that those who practice it will not be harassed by law enforcement folks? [The sort of "don't ask don't tell" approach that exists de facto if not de jure in Utah now?] Mere non-criminalization? Or something more: state-sanctioned [by marriage licenses] polygamist unions? I can see the former happening — indeed, it’s practically already here — but [in the US at least] not the latter.

    Mere non-criminalization would though require some change in the bigamy laws. They’d have to apply only in cases in which spouses beyond No. 1 were not told that the man offering marriage already had a spouse No. 1 and intended to keep her.

    Also, what status would, under mere non-criminalization, would the offspring of spouses 2 plus X have in law? Would they be entitled to the full range of welfare services if the single male parent could not provide enough income to care for them? Entitled to inheritance rights equal to those of Wife 1 and her children? Seems to me the public/state has a defensible interest in sanctioning formally and officially only one union at a time per person to limit potential claims on public services [ADC etc.] for large numbers of children from plural wives if Daddy can’t provide.

    What happens when Sister Wives in trailers numbers 2 through 7 out there in High Desert Living The Principle Camp cannot feed, cloth etc. their children. We’re not going to leave them to starve and freeze. Would it be possible to devise a statute that will pass constitutional muster that would subject the head of such a polygamous family to penalties if those beyond wife one end up on the welfare rolls if such marriages were legal, if only via non-criminalization? A welfare fraud statute of some sort applicable to polygamous unions?

    Even mere non-criminalization raises, seems to me, a mare’s nest of legal and policy problems that would have to be worked out.

    PS: Don’t be too quick to label Canada a liberal paradise. No bill of rights in Canada, no first amendment, which means free speech rights that are, it seems, more limited than we have here. The cases being brought under Canada’s “hate speech” laws, which seem to be based on the legal claim that people have an affirmative right not to be offended by critical speech directed at them, are disturbing from a civil liberties point of view, particularly those cases being brought against religious critics of homosexuality. Though on appeal, the worst of those decisions by lower courts seem to be being reversed. So far.

  2. Neal Humphrey says:

    More Dr. Bob (and you bring up a number of points that are often ignored in the discourse around the polygamy topic) – How would a health insurance underwriter develop a premium structure for a household with five or six parents plus a couple of dozen kids? It could cost bajillions.

    It’s interesting to me how a number of non-LDS non-profit caregiving agency leaders support legalization of polygamy so that all the wives have legal matrimonial rights, including the legal protections that go with divorce.

    Yup. The policy development attendant to legalizing polygamy would be untidy indeed.

    ‘Could drive a fella into holy bachelorhood.

  3. D. Michael Martindale says:

    Is it better to have public services used to support wives and children living in secret plural marriages? Is it better to use public resourcers because the husbands can’t provide enough income to care for them because they have to hide from the law and can’t just be normal citizens? Would the polygamists live in the “High Desert” if they didn’t have to practice their faith underground? Would the extreme abuses of the FLDS be so likely if we would socialize polygamists back into society where they could live in full view of the rest of us rather than in secret?

    You can’t use the status quo to prove that decriminalizing polygamy will cause problems, when criminalizing polygamy is what caused most of the status quo problems of a polygamous lifestyle in the first place.

  4. D. Michael Martindale says:

    I’ve heard the argument before that legalizing polygamy would cause a lot of problems with the law, which is designed to accommodate monogamous marriage only. My respoinse: so freaking what?

    Poor lawyers and legislators will have to do extra work to accommodate giving people the right to pursue their private relationships according to their conscience and religious beliefs. My heart bleeds for them!

  5. Daniel Zappala says:

    One small correction, Doug. Canada doesn’t have socialized medicine. They have socialized health insurance. Medical services are still provided by the private sector. Compare to Great Britain, which does indeed have socialized medicine, where all doctors are employed by the state. It’s important to be accurate with terms like “socialism” given how freely they are thrown around these days.

  6. Todd says:

    So let me get this straight, Neal. Canada is a liberal utopia because it has legal gay marriage, health care for all, and a host of other issues the political left champions in the name of liberalism. Yet you don’t want polygamy crowding that utopia simply because it is founded on religious principles (considered largely as part of the political right) or that they would produce a drain on public services like health care? That is the ultimate contradiction of principles. You sir, are a hypocrit. You do not care about literal libralism, but only leftist ideology.

  7. Dave Mallinak says:

    The homosexual agenda is writing the playbook for legalized polygamy now. How hard will it be to argue that we need to \stand on the side of love,\ \value diversity,\ \promote equality,\ and in general, not be judgmental? After all, it is between 3 (or more) consenting adults. What they do in their bedroom is nobody’s business.

    The homosexual debate is nearly finished now. When it is done (or perhaps earlier), polygamy can get it on. And all the ordinances will already be in place. After all, polygamy is a sexual orientation.

    • Pete says:

      First, let me say that I do not condone either homosexuality or polygamy. (I don’t judge them, either.) However, I agree with this post. If we let our government say it is legal for any two consenting adults to join in marriage, then how can we prevent polygamists from demanding similar recognition. In fact, part of me cannot wait for the day. The LDS church would never say “I told you so,” but it does kind of make me smile to think that it could be a possibility :)

    • Rickenrota says:

      True, if polygamy were to be granted equal legal status as homosexuality (as a minority), pedophilia will be included. Sexual orientation is a choice that becames a habit. It’ s similar to any other behaviour that could become addictive (food or alcohol abuse, porn adiction, drugs, theft, prostitution, etc…).

  8. Mikeasell says:

    The LDS faith’s closet is filled with polygamy skeletons. The church made a great investment in going from a “peculiar people” to “we are just like everyone else, and yes, I am a Mormon!”. Recently the leadership has used every polygamist event or news story to distance itself from the practice. Citing that basically they do not believe in it since they have not practiced it for so long and that people that practice it are as educated and hip as Mormons are (wink).

    Some leaders even go to the extremes and say that it was a trial that is not over. They have tried to change the history and minimize Joseph Smiths involvement, despite the fact that he had 33 wives.

    If it becomes legal in the US, as it is legal in 40+ other countries, the church will simply make a statement that the “practice” was discontinued.
    In reality it was downgraded from necessary to salvation to a simply practice, that was it can simply be discontinued. The church has had no problem changing original Mormon doctrines in lieu of more popular ones, this will be the case with polygamy.

    The interesting story would be to explain the 40k active LDS Mormons living in Utah that practice polygamy underground. Or corner of of the LDS leaders to explain why God has a gospel that needed to be restored to the original to then be changed constantly.

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