NewsThu Jan 22, 2009 - 12:15 pm EST
Same-sex “Marriage” Used as Defense in Canadian Polygamy Case
By Thaddeus M. Baklinski
CRESTON, British Columbia, January 22, 2009 (LifeSIteNews.com) - Canada’s same-sex "marriage" law is being used as justification for polygamy by defense lawyers in the case of Winston Blackmore, 52, and James Oler, 44. The pair are leaders of the controversial polygamous sect in Bountiful, near Creston, British Columbia, and are accused of being married to more than one woman at a time.
The accused made their first court appearance yesterday after being arrested and charged on January 7 and later released on their own recognizance.
Blackmore is charged with marrying 20 women, though he claims to have had 26 wives and more than 108 children. Oler is charged with marrying two women.
Blackmore is being represented by lawyer Blair Suffredine, a former member of Premier Gordon Campbell’s Liberal government, who, while stating he is personally opposed to polygamy, says that Blackmore has "a very strong case" in light of Canada’s legalization of homosexual "marriage."
"If (homosexuals) can marry, what is the reason that public policy says one person can’t marry more than one person?" said Suffredine in an Associated Press report.
Oler’s lawyer, Robert Wickett, declined to comment yesterday, saying the prosecution has not yet disclosed the case against Mr. Oler, which may go to a separate trail, according to a Globe and Mail report.
Opponents of same-sex “marriage” have long observed that once homosexuals are permitted to “marry,” there is nothing holding polygamous marriages from being legally recognized as well. “It’s like this,” explained Stanley Kurtz in a 2006 National Review article. “The way to abolish marriage, without seeming to abolish it, is to redefine the institution out of existence. If everything can be marriage, pretty soon nothing will be marriage. Legalize gay marriage, followed by multi-partner marriage, and pretty soon the whole idea of marriage will be meaningless.”
While same-sex “marriage” advocates have strongly denied that such “marriage” would lead to polygamy, it appears that the warnings of pro-family advocates may now be coming to fruition in Canada.
Even though police have been aware of the situation in Bountiful for some time, law-enforcement officials have been hesitant to arrest practitioners of polygamy under fears that the law would not survive a challenge under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
On at least two previous occasions the RCMP have recommended that arrests be made, but the Crown denied the recommendation, saying that the ban on polygamy would likely be struck down on the basis of the Canadian re-definition of marriage to include homosexual couples, and the Charter’s guarantee of religious freedom.
"If I am guilty of anything, it is being Canadian and living my religion," Blackmore said outside court after the brief hearing.
A British Columbia women’s advocacy group said they were disappointed that B.C.‘s attorney general is not pushing for charges of sexual exploitation against the two men.
Denise Darrell, executive director of South Fraser Women’s Services Society, said that polygamy charges against Blackmore and Oler send the wrong message – one that implies sexual exploitation of women and children is a lesser issue, according to a Surrey Leader report.
“This isn’t about religious practice, this is about sexual assault and exploitation,” Darrell said.
Law enforcement officials have said, however, that the women in question appear to have voluntarily entered the polygamous marriages.
The trial is set to continue on February 18.
See previous LSN coverage:
Canadian Law Prohibiting Polygamy Faces Challenge