Friday, April 22, 2011

Laws against polygamy to be tested in Canada

Canadian laws against polygamy will be tested in a suit brought against some of the inhabitants of the rural enclave of Bountiful, British Columbia, who are polygamous adherents of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (FLDS). The Canadian magazine The Walrus covers the story: To the Exclusion of All Others: In a liberal society, is polygamy still intolerable?

At least part of the issue is how traditional divorce law, set up for dividing property between two people, would be adopted.
"American legal scholar Adrienne Davis, who believes that conventional family law rooted in monogamous marriage may not be up to attempts at cobbling polygamous marriage onto it, points out an alternative: commercial partnership law. Typically used when two or more parties go into business, according to Davis it would certainly address “polygamy’s central conundrum: ensuring fairness and establishing baseline behaviour in contexts characterized by multiple partners, on-going entrances and exits, and life-defining economic and personal stakes.” Of course, there would be a huge administrative cost to both adapting the model to marriage, and to ensuring that over the course of a union all partners consented to any new additions to it and renegotiated their respective rights as the landscape changed. More to the point, however, this is not what polygamists want, and it’s not what we want. Remember, liberal marriage was built on the concept of love; it’s hard to imagine a way of squaring this with the filing of an annual marriage report."

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