Posted on | November 22, 2010 | No Comments
In British Columbia, a small religious community has decided to ask provincial courts to legalize simultaneous marriages for an individual. Is polygamy making a comeback in our country? Before we ring the alarm bell, let’s look at the pros and cons of polygamy, and see the arguments put forward in this case.
The institution of marriage (if we can call it so) has followed a bumpy road these past few years, first with the rise of unwed couples then with the recognition of gay marriage. Romantic partnership is getting more and more liberal. It is no longer permanent, as the high divorce rate shows.
Furthermore the benefits it brought are no longer exclusive. One can happily have a rich sex life without being married. Marriage now in fact voluntarily involves additional partners – open relationships, while not a majority, are nevertheless part of our social reality.
The economic and social benefits of wedlock on their side are more or less available to other kinds of relationships. A well-redacted will should solve sharing issues at the death of a spouse. Most insurance companies recognize common-law partners as eligible beneficiaries. The notion of economic dependency among spouses is still debated – a recent, well-covered ruling has brought it back to public attention.
This said, and notwithstanding some opinions expressed by its more liberal proponents, polygamy carries a heavy burden of past abuse, generally against women. You’ll notice we’ve been discussing polygamy, not polyandry. Furthermore, the main argument of the religious community is freedom of religion, which is not a free ticket for total lawlessness. Another religious community tried to use the same argument to avoid photo ID on their driver’s licenses; the court ruled against them, favouring instead the necessity to protect adequately the entire population.
While there are indeed stable relationships involving more than two partners, these are not numerous enough to justify a drastic change to marriage laws in Canada. In all likelihood, polygamy will remain where it actually stands, that is, in the sexual fantasies of a few people.