Social conservatives like to say that same sex marriage will lead to polygamy and point to the BC government’s unwillingness with the situation with Bountiful as some kind of proof. In so arguing, they demonstrate not only their ignorance of the now voluminous literature on polygamy, but also their ignorance of the long history of BC government’s dealings with the people of Bountiful. Pace what the local wing nut may have told you, the reluctance of the BC government to deal with community long predates the great debates about SSM. For example, The BC attorney general thought about pressing ahead with charges in 1992, but declined because of “charter considerations”. What were those charter considerations? They most certainly do not have to do with concerns about the legal prohibition against polygamy being struck down. They are partly evidential and are partly due to concerns about freedom of religion.
In a strict legal sense there is no polygamy in Canada and no one is arguing that there should be a change to the law. Indeed, far from arguing for the legalization of polygamy, Blackwell et al’s out has always been to claim that never mind what people say about these religious marriages. Check the books; no one in Bountiful has more than one legal wife. This is what makes the social conservatives warnings so fucking ridiculous.
The issue at hand is and will remain whether a religious ceremony (i.e., a “marriage”) with no force of law constitutes a violation of Canada’s laws against polygamy. Seeing as how social conservatives are so found of lumping same sex marriage in with polygamy, I will give them such an analogy. Many churches conducted same sex “marriages” long before June 2003 even though these “marriages” meant nothing in the eyes of the law. Going after the people of Bountiful for “marrying” more than one person would be somewhat
analogous to the police having gone after those churches for "marrying" same sex couples prior to 2003.