Monday, August 06, 2007

More on polygamy in Canada and U.S.

Interesting article at the Macleans website by Ken MacQueen - Is polygamy legal in Canada?

If polygamy is illegal, but nobody wants to prosecute it, is it really a crime?


This ties in quite nicely with my recent post stating that I feel it's only a matter of time before polygamy is in fact legalized.

According to MacQueen, Wally Oppal has still not decided exactly what his next step will be, in spite of a recommendation to seek "a court reference on the question of legality". He may still lay charges.


But it seems that while the Bountiful group is openly flaunting the law, there are some in Canada - even fundamentalist Christians - who practice it secretly:


Members of Bountiful are part of a breakaway sect of fundamentalist Mormons who do not recognize the mainstream church's decision more than a century ago to end the practice of polygamy. But the issue extends far beyond the borders of Bountiful. Many Muslims in Canada, as well as some fundamentalist Christians and others with no religious grounding, also quietly practice polygamy.


And speaking of Muslim polygamy, this is a fascinating article about the covert practice of polygamy in the U.S., with links to blogs of several "co-wives".

19 comments:

wayward son said...

My position is: "who cares?"

If adults wish to enter into a marriage of more than two people then so be it. Should we throw 3 people in jail because they love each other and wish to be together? Who are they hurting?

In the case of Bountiful I am disappointed that the authorities have not tried to end the tragedy of young girls, who are being raised in a cult environment, being married off to old men. It is criminal. Not because it is polygamy, but because it is abuse, rape etc. Marrying a young girl off to an adult male in a non-polygamous marriage would be just as criminal.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

If adults wish to enter into a marriage of more than two people then so be it. Should we throw 3 people in jail because they love each other and wish to be together? Who are they hurting?

Absolutely. As long as we're not talking about coercion and manipulation of some kind, and they're all consenting adults, I really can't see what legal device could be used to bust up the union. That isn't to say that it would automatically become another version of 'marriage' right away.

Anonymous said...

You're ok with polygamists but pissed about homosexuals? How old testament of you.

wayward son said...

Yes, I couldn't care less whether the union of more than two people is called a marriage.

Consenting adults is all I ask for. Saying that there must be no coercion or manipulation I think goes to far though. Most marriages I know of involved at least some coercion or manipulation to get the two to the alter. Most of the time it seems that one is ready for marriage before the other. The one uses coercion and manipulation to encourage the other along. (for instance coercion from parents, religious views or all of their friends getting married. Manipulation through the threat of no more sex, the threat of one leaving the other).

wayward son said...

Anonymous "You're ok with polygamists but pissed about homosexuals? How old testament of you."

In Joanne's defence, I don't think that she has said that she supports polygamous unions being called "marriage." At the same time I don't think that she has said that it should be illegal for two gays to be together, just that she opposes their union being called a "marriage."

I disagree completely with her on SSM, but I don't think that she is being inconsistent.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

W.S. - Thanks. That pretty much sums it up. I really don't care who shacks up with whom. Moreover, however, I don't think Canadian law can prevent any number of consenting adults from living together in any kind of arrangement that they choose.

The word "marriage" was a sticking point for me for a while, but the whole institution of marriage itself is somewhat out-of-style now.

Just call me 'Jaded Joanne'.

SouthernOntarioan said...

In my opinion, no one should be 'thrown in jail' for 'loving' each other, but why should we be expected to subsidize it through marriage (the tax benefits that come along with marriage, etc..)?

SouthernOntarioan said...

At this point however, I'm going to be fatalistic and say that its inevitable that polygamy will become legalized.

Once SSM was passed it was indicative of the way things were going. I just wish SSM-supporters would have just acknowledged this instead of playing these naive games. Too many said 'no no polygamy will stay illegal and SSM is nothing the same..' blah blah blah

SouthernOntarioan said...

Off topic a little:

The Liberals were outfundraised by the NDP in the last 6 months. The Tories raked in more moolah than all the other parties combined.

The silver lining for Grits? They doubled their fundraising from the first 3 months this year. At that rate they only need to double 2 or 3 more times to reach the Tories.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

They doubled their fundraising from the first 3 months this year.

Interesting. I wonder why the increase all of a sudden?

Anonymous said...

If polygamy is legal it does bring up some interesting questions.

1/. Does everyone have to be consenting or can a man take another wife without the consent of his previous wife?

2/. Are there any consequenses to society? For instance in most societies that practice poygamy rich men have several wives and poor men have none.

Just a few things to think about.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Good questions, Anon.

It's my understanding with Muslims that they are allowed to have up to four wives provided that the man can afford it and is able to treat them all equally.

Not sure about the consent issue though. If it is part of their religion, then the women likely don't have much to say about it. If you read the link at the end of this post regarding the U.S. Muslims that practice polygamy, it seems that the women may be jealous of each other at times, but there are advantages to sharing chores with co-wives as well.

Rob R said...

"Are there any consequenses to society? For instance in most societies that practice poygamy rich men have several wives and poor men have none."

There is a solution to this dilemna in certain societies. The poor guys get a fancy new vest a promise of 72 virgins.

SouthernOntarioan said...

Major problem with the practice of polygamy is the 'consent of previous wives' bit. Because in most societies that practice polygamy women are seen more as chattel than humans.

So the entire 'consent' thing is very thin. If the woman refuses to consent, she is dumped like trash.

Kunoichi said...

It's my understanding with Muslims that they are allowed to have up to four wives provided that the man can afford it and is able to treat them all equally.

My in-laws lived in a predominantly Islamic region of Africa for a while. The men were allowed up to 4 wives, but each wife had to be provided with a house and furnishings, plus specific things like X amount of salt per year. The houses all had to be equal in value, including furnishings, etc. Anything he provided for one wife, he had to provide for all of them, equally. Other than the house and the few staples like salt he had to provide, he had no responsibility to pay for the wife's upkeep. She would have to do the rest herself, if he didn't.

Also, because a man was expected to pay his future bride's father the equivalent of 1 years income, many men were at least well into their 30's when they got married, but their prospective wives were often barely into puberty (and she wouldn't have had a choice in the matter). My SIL turned 14 while they lived there, and you wouldn't believe the offers my FIL got for her!

Most men couldn't afford multiple wives, so they had mistresses, instead. No financial obligations required.

Anonymous said...

4 wives! No money down! No payments - ever!

In fact - the government pays you!

And it's happening in Ontario right now. Breed all four of them and a proper Muslim man with not a cent to his name can make a pretty good living from mother's allowance. No need to work.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

There is a solution to this dilemna in certain societies. The poor guys get a fancy new vest a promise of 72 virgins.

Heh. Sadly, that is probably true in some cases.

davey said...

Requirement for consent of the first wife is probably not required, though if it became law in Canada, we'd probably need to update this. Tax issues could also be worked into our laws.
Biggest issue for me is not the multiple marriages, but the potential for divorce. Today, with no-fault, either spouse can walk away and generally get 50% of accrued assets. More people in a relationship make this more complex. Child custody & visitation also become qute complex emotionally as well as legally and financially.

Joanne (True Blue) said...

Child custody & visitation also become qute complex emotionally as well as legally and financially.

Yes, polygamy could certainly exasperate that problem. We already have situations where multiple people have been named legal parents as in the recent Canadian case with two lesbians and the sperm donor all wanting to be part of the child's life. It starts to get crazy when you think of all the possible repercussions.