“I have concluded that this case is essentially about harm,” Chief Justice Robert Bauman wrote in the decision that was handed down Wednesday morning in Vancouver.
“More specifically, Parliament’s reasoned apprehension of harm arising out of the practice of polygamy. This includes harm to women, to children, to society and to the institution of monogamous marriage.”
But he suggested the law shouldn’t be used to criminalize minors who find themselves married into polygamous unions.
The decision follows 42 days of legal arguments from a wide variety of groups interested in the constitutionality of Section 293 of the Criminal Code.
I wrote a while back on why gay marriage has nothing to do with polygamy.
So when I read the part about the Chief Justice’s saying that polygamy was a threat to the institution of monogamous marriage – I had to be cheered.
Gay marriage is monogamous marriage – two people exclusive of others – this is why there is no legal reason for America to fail to allow gays and lesbians to marry the people that they are already spending their lives with, building homes and families, communities. All the social behaviors that are in the interest of society and have historically been encouraged.
Gay marriage is already the law of the land in Canada and gay marriage was not the slippery slope to legalizing polygamy or any of the scare tactics, such as marrying animals or objects that the religious right wants people to think that gay marriage will usher in.
Because none of those things follow – gay marriage is not a feel good free for all throwing out the social morals with the bathwater – it’s more a shoring up of marriage than tearing down.
After all, how much can gays and lesbians really change marriage when it’s marriage that we have wanted to have – it’s because we do value what marriage stands for – forming families and building community capacity – it’s putting down roots.
The important part of this decision for Canada – and the part that religious people need to pay attention to if they live in secular democratic societies:
Freedom of Religion does not trump the principles upon which secular democratic nations are based in:
- the individual as the social unit of consequence
- Equality of the members of society is the foundation upon which all other rights flow
- Freedom of Religion does not include a guarantee of non-interference if the practices of the religion of choice are harmful or undermine equality
- Separation of Church and State means that the church stays out of government and that the government will stay out of church concerns, only insofar as the practices are not socially harmful
People may no longer use religion as the justification for harming or oppressing vulnerable people.
The BC Government has yet to decide if they are going to now apply the law to Bountiful and any other under the radar polygamy; which, if it doesn’t, is a rather large waste of tax payer money for the concluded trial and the previous trial that failed to secure convictions because of the religious defence raised.
If we are not going to enforce laws intended to reduce harm and promote an equal society, then there’s no point in having such laws or claiming equality as a prime condition of being a citizen.
There are real people being harmed in Bountiful – women, young men and children.
This is not something that a society that claims to care should be tolerating never mind making it possible through tax payer’s money.
The BC Government has been supporting the Bountiful community through education funding when the schools teach the religion of the town and not the same curriculum of BC schools. Especially considering that this religion teaches that the government is evil and that it’s good to squeeze as much money as you can from them – so the various wives claim welfare as single mothers – and a man with 20 wives, with 19 of them claiming welfare, that’s a lot of money fraudulently obtained if the residents of Bountiful consider their marriages to be genuine.
So it’s time for the government of BC to enforce the laws of the land, end the harms being done in Bountiful – including trading brides with polygamy communities in the US in an attempt to delay the eventual collapse of the gene pool of these closed communities.
Enforce the laws and end generations of harmful practices: Equal access and treatment under the law means enforcing the laws of the land, not just legislating them.
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