January 25, 2005
Polygamist marriage challenge 'inevitable'
Federal Justice Minister
objects to making the obvious link
between same-sex marriage and a potential court challenge by polygamists.
Well, two human-rights
advocates - a lawyer and a cult expert - are making the link for him.
is wrong to dismiss the
possibility that polygamists will use the victories homosexuals have won to
push for acceptance of their practices as well, says
The issues may be
distinct but that doesn't mean polygamists won't launch a charter challenge
if they're prosecuted, he says.
"I believe (a court
challenge) could potentially arise," says
The proceedings were
settled "amicably," says
If polygamists do launch
a constitutional challenge, the government will have to use the notwithstanding
clause to keep plural marriage illegal, says
courts have inherent jurisdiction over the protection of children and their
action will have to be framed from the standpoint of protecting the interests
of children born of these unions and polygamy will continue to be outlawed
for that reason".
polygamists will raise charter issues. It's inevitable," he says.
"Whether it flies is another question."
Polygamists will use the
same-sex marriage rulings as a jumping-off point to argue the supposed merits
of their own unions, says Kent, who specializes in alternative religions.
They see the charter as
their best defence and may feel emboldened since the B.C. government has
refused to lay charges, he says.
B.C. missed a
"golden opportunity" to bring justice to the women and children of
Government inaction has
sent a message that
"The government has
a responsibility to protect its most vulnerable citizens and, in this
context, the government failed."
Some have argued that
polygamous communities are not a threat to society, but that view ignores the
substantial harm suffered by women, children and, in some cases, young men,
He has also written a
piece on the issue which is to be published in an academic journal.
of religion does not mean giving a small number of religious leaders licence
to perpetuate human misery," he writes in the paper.
"It is easy now to
see why polygamy so often takes a toll on women, especially young women. The
theology tells men that they have a right to multiple virgins," he
also control the young women's sexuality, as they become baby-producers in
order to fulfil the religious aspirations of the men who control them,"
Unlike in the
That could bring a flood
happen," he says.