The slippery slope to polygamy
by Margret Kopala

Published in the Ottawa Citizen, November 27, 2006

If you think polygamy can't be legalized in Canada, think again.

According to a recent poll sponsored by the Institute for Canadian Values and the Vancouver Sun, 82 per cent of Canadians oppose legalizing polygamy. But public opinion did little this summer to stop the Dutch courts from upholding the right of the Brotherly Love, Freedom and Diversity Party to field candidates in recent elections. Protected by the Netherlands' guarantees of freedom of expression, assembly and association, the party was formed by pedophiles calling for a reduction of the age of sexual consent to 12 and the legalization of pornography and sex with animals.

Not that public opinion should dictate the law. On the contrary, the thumbs-up, thumbs-down politics of the gladiator ring has no place in a mature democracy, but as the House of Commons approaches its vote on reopening the same-sex marriage issue, it would do well to consider the effects of its own poorly considered thumbs-up, thumbs-down treatment of same-sex marriage when it was first legalized.

Here in Canada, no one is proposing a pedophilia party (yet), but thanks to Bountiful, B.C. and same-sex marriage, legalized polygamy is now probable. Should the B.C. Attorney General ever lay charges, the Bountiful polygamists will, for reasons similar to Dutch pedophiles, be laughing all the way to the Supreme Court. Not only will this breakaway sect of the Church of the Latter Day Saints likely enjoy protection under the Charter's freedom guarantees, but it can also claim to be faith-based and therefore invoke its freedom-of-religion entitlements.

If that doesn't win the day, the Ontario Court of Appeal's Three Parents Case just might. Should the father of a child being raised by married lesbians be given parental rights, not only will the definition of the word "family" fundamentally change, the next step, from parent to spouse, is inevitable.

Along with it, the precedent for de facto polygamy among gays and lesbians and indeed any group arrangement (the term for this is polyamory) will have been established.

Still not persuaded by the directions in which same-sex marriage is taking society? Then consider the advanced and sophisticated state of lobbying in both the United States and Canada for the legalization of these precise arrangements.

According to Dan Cere, principal investigator for the consortium of Canadian and American academics who comprise The Council on Family Law, two influential reports - the first published by the American Law Institute in 2002 and the second by Canada's now defunct Law Commission in 2001 - argue against any public standards for marriage and parenthood whatsoever.

More recently, the National Review Online's Stanley Kurtz discusses a manifesto signed in July by "hundreds of (American) activists, artists, and academics" entitled "Beyond Same Sex Marriage," which calls for government recognition and benefits to cover a "diversity" of family forms.

How did it get to this?

The slippery slope that social liberals denied as they dug in their heels on same-sex marriage without having done their homework has commenced its inexorable work, but social conservatives share the blame for allowing the debate to be polarized around secular and religious values.

Lost in the scuffle was any debate about the consequences of so fundamental a change to so fundamental a social institution as marriage. This, despite evidence that social and other benefits derive from children raised in monogamous heterosexual families where their needs for biological identity and for acquiring husband/wife, mother/father role models are optimally served.

Of course, given current trends to viewing children as lifestyle add-ons and celebrity trophies, we could decide that children don't matter, but even those with no direct interest in children will concede that their pension plans, tax rates and personal safety depend on the optimally reared, well-adjusted children of others. Family fragmentation is the single biggest cause of today's social problems. These in turn bleed the public purse. Stacking the deck in favour of traditional marriage while assuring basic rights for minorities clearly serves everyone's interests.

That the House of Commons should address these glaring deficiencies in the same-sex marriage debate goes without saying, but rather than hold yet another uninformed vote, it should first appoint a task force to report on all aspects of the issue.

MARGRET KOPALA’s column on western perspectives appears every other week.

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