Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ten Reasons Why Polygamy Should Be Illegal

  1. In all polygamous cultures on the planet, women have extremely low status. All must obey their husbands, fathers, or brothers at all times. All are poor with few or no rights. In many, the women are virtual prisoners of their family compounds. Almost none get to choose who they marry, and many are married against their will to much older men. Moreover, the religions in these cultures assign women very low status, which teaches women not to expect more out of life for themselves. Thus, despite the polygamists' arguments, polygamy is not about rights: it's about the power over and control of one group by another.
  2. Polygamy is almost never polyandry. It's not about women's freedom to choose who they marry or how many spouses they have: it's about women being owned by men.
  3. Polygamy skews the natural ratio of marriageable men and women. If one man can take 20 women as spouses, then 19 men must do without spouses entirely. For this reason, polygamous cultures have to deal with the problem of excess males, either through wars and conflicts or through ostracization. This skewing of the natural ratio would create conflict in Canada.
  4. Most North American "families" in polygamous situations are on welfare or food stamps. The men in these "families" cannot financially support all the women and children, and the women are generally not permitted the freedom to choose a career and work outside the family compound. This shows that in a modern society, polygamous marriages are neither healthy nor stable institutions.
  5. The media has shown some polygamous women claiming that they are happy in their multiple marriages. But these statements have to be viewed carefully. According to the religion of these cultures, women are only permitted into heaven by permission of their "husband." In addition, if these women make a statement that could be construed as anti-polygamy, the leadership of the religious community will take away their children. Thus, women in these cultures are afraid to reveal their true thoughts and feelings or to jeopardize their fragile status. Meanwhile, many women who have left these polygamous cults describe the complete subjugation they had to endure. For this reason, the statements of polygamous women cannot be taken at face value.
  6. Legal polygamy would turn immigration into a nightmare. An immigrant can claim to be wed to half a nation of women and demand that all these women be brought to Canada. Polygamists can arrive at the border and demand refugee status because of persecution. Sorting out these claims would be impossible, since most nations refuse to give legal status to such marriages.
  7. Legalized polygamy would reduce women's rights. Polygamous cults from all over the world would start immigrating to Canada to take advantage of a right to live this lifestyle. Once they take citizenship, they would be able to vote for the values they believe in – low status for women. Moreover, they would raise their enormous families of children to believe these same values, which would further add to the anti-women voting pool. In a short period of time, 200 years of struggle for women's rights would vanish.
  8. The issue of same-sex marriage is not at all in the same category as polygamous marriage. First, same-sex marriage is still a partnership and relationship of two people, most often with the objective of starting a family. Second, nonheterosexuality is a biological state, not a choice. In contrast, nobody is born a polygamist. Thus, polygamy is not a rights situation in the same sense that nonheterosexual marriage recognition is a rights situation. Third, same-sex marriage does not affect anyone except the two people involved; whereas polygamous marriage affects all of society because of its impact on women's status in Canada.
  9. In Canada, marriage is a partnership and a relationship. Polygamy turns marriage into a cattle drive.
  10. Canada should be prepared to protect the lifestyle choices of those who have sexual-family forms that are not marriages. A multiple sexual partners lifestyle is not and should never be illegal in Canada. In addition, having children with multiple partners or sharing one father for several women's children should never be illegal either. These are lifestyle choices. However, Canada has the right and the responsibility to recognize only one spouse as a legal spouse and refuse to recognize all others. In other words, Canada cannot prevent polygamists from doing what they do, but they can refuse to grant it any legal status.

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