Canadian polygamist case reaches closing arguments

Tue, 29 Mar 2011

A Canadian court is set to conclude the hearing of the landmark case of a polygamist who argues that since the law there permits gay ‘marriage’, his multiple marriages should also be allowed.

The Supreme Court of British Columbia will hear closing statements this week in the case involving two Mormons, who have been charged with polygamy.

Winston Blackmore reportedly has 19 wives, and James Marion Oler has two.

Marriage

Mr Blackmore’s lawyer is said to have built his defence based on the changes made to Canadian law to allow gay marriage.

The Christian Legal Fellowship (CLF), a Canadian legal group, intervened in the case to support the laws against polygamy.

A spokesman for CLF said: “The Court now has a choice between upholding the primary building block of society – the institution of marriage – or, conversely, establishing Canada as the first Western nation to recognize a practice that disproportionately impacts the vulnerable of society.”

Redefine

The Westminster Government is set to launch a consultation to “formally look” at redefining marriage to allow same-sex couples to ‘marry’ in England and Wales, but critics warn that changing the definition of marriage could have unintended consequences for society.

Earlier this month barrister Neil Addison warned that marriage could be destroyed if the Government moves to fundamentally redefine the institution.

A local Canadian newspaper has commented on the polygamy case, saying before same-sex marriage was allowed, the definition of marriage in Canada was “the union for life of one man and one woman to the exclusion of all others”.

Polygamy

The newspaper reported that the Supreme Court had substituted the words “one man and one woman” with “two persons”.

Since the Supreme Court could alter the definition in this way, the newspaper argued, it could be difficult to retain “to the exclusion of all others”.

And if the “exclusion” phrase was removed, then polygamy would be lawful.

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