On the heels of gay marriage, polygamy knocks on Canada's door
By MICHAEL COREN
The Toronto Sun
Sat, March 15, 2008
Okay, help me here. There has been an angry, even hysterical reaction to the revelation that there are a number of polygamous families in Canada where Muslim men are married to up to four wives. Immigration law is fluid on the issue, with some experts arguing that immigrants already in such relationships may continue them in Canada.
Columnists and editorialists ran amok the past few weeks in condemning this alien arrangement and letters to newspapers screamed that the world was about to end if such immorality was allowed to continue.
But hold on just one little Canadian moment. Not so very long ago those of us who believed that marriage was the union of one man and one woman argued that to redefine the institution to include people of the same gender would inevitably lead to polygamy. If any of you doubt me, read one of my columns of three years ago.
I argued that marriage was based on four fundamentals. Age, number, blood and gender. In other words, those being married had to be of legal age, there could only be two of them, they could not be closely related and they had to be male and female. If, I continued, we changed one of those principles it was only a matter of time before at least one other was altered.
Love, we were told, was the only relevant factor and if a man loved a man or a woman loved a woman they should be allowed to be married. But what, I said at the time, if a man loved several women and they reciprocated?
And thus the inevitable. I predict that polygamy will be legal and accepted in this country within five years. Any Charter challenge in support of the custom would not only be backed by the revolutionary precedent of same-sex marriage redefinition but also by guaranteed freedom of religion clauses.
An alliance of liberal Muslims, secularists, conservatives and women's groups will oppose the change and may well win the first few battles, but the result is inevitable. Just as when a small number of radicals decided to devote their time and money to homosexual marriage. They lost the political battle but won the legal clashes.
The same will occur with polygamy. Intelligent Muslim women will argue that they are not abused or exploited and that to deny them the right to be part of a polygamous marriage would in itself be an act of abuse and exploitation. The sword has been sharpened and its blade can now be used by people other than its original creators.
Yet before we express our horrors, why is polygamy so frightening? It existed in the Islamic world and among some Sephardic Jews for more than 1,000 years and for even longer in the centuries pre-dating Islam and even Christianity.
It is certainly jarring, but less so than the notion of people of the same gender, incapable of procreation without the abuse of science, parading as husbands and husbands or wives and wives. It is a perversion of the norm rather than a perversion in itself.
It is wrong. Of course. There are, however, degrees of error and in the nature of what we have damaged and destroyed it hardly causes a ripple of the polluted, soiled sea.
Now let us observe the reaction of those foolish souls who demanded a new idea of marriage.