09 October 2014

Trial Starts Today for Bountiful Polygamists

CBC reports that the trial of the polygamy and child trafficking charges against two leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from Bountiful, British Columbia starts today in Creston. It will be interesting to see how the trial turns out, given the opinions the provincial government has received from not one but two special prosecutors that the Criminal Code prohibitions against polygamy are likely an unconstitutional contravention of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the positive but restricting opinion of the BC Supreme Court on the question.

I have written about the polygamy issue previously in this blog:
  • "Polygamy: The Legal Background" provides a synopsis of the old laws on marriage and divorce and the religious climate in which the criminal sanctions against polygamy originated.
  • "Big Love Busted" reports on the 2009 arrest of the two leaders of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on polygamy charges and summarizes the relevant provisions of the Criminal Code.
  • "Supreme Court Releases Decision in Polygamy Reference" summarizes the decision of the British Columbia Supreme Court on the provincial government's request for it to determine whether those provisions of the Criminal Code pass constitutional muster and the court's interpretation of those provisions.
  • "No Further Reference of Polygamy Prohibition" briefly digests the provincial government's not to take the decision in the Polygamy Reference to the Court of Appeal.
This discussion about the criminality — and constitutionality — of the antiquated and pietistic prohibition against polygamy contrasts strikingly with what I perceive to be an increasing social tolerance of alternative family structures, including the polyamorist or polyfidelitous relationships of mature, informed and consenting adults. As mentioned in my post "Rethinking Marriage: Beta Marriages, Renewable-term Marriages and Other Interesting Ideas," the provincial Family Law Act actually supports and provides fairly comprehensive rights to those involved in polyamorous relationships, which I will write about shortly.

Update: 10 October 2014

Oh well, as it turns out the trial just got adjourned until 4 December 2014. According to the Calgary Herald, another jewel in the Postmedia Network empire's increasingly massive crown, the two accused appeared with only one wife in tow and the case was put over to allow the men to retain counsel. That their trial was nigh must somehow have escaped their attention. These things happen.