Tue Dec 28/04
My last word on you know what

In yesterday's Globe, Norman Spector made the worst argument yet (subscribers only) for the gay marriage begets polygamy slippery slope [no, he didn't see January 11 update]:

As a conservative, I can think of several reasons it would not be in Canada's interest to become the third country to legalize same-sex marriage. However, if the Supreme Court dismissed these arguments, I can't think of a single additional reason to prohibit a woman from voluntarily choosing to become Paul Martin's second wife, assuming Sheila Martin also agreed.

Well, thanks for not trying, Norman. There are, as any reasonable person would admit, myriad arguments against legalizing polygamy, and even more against the idea that the issue has anything to do with gay marriage. Stephen Spencer's letter in today's Globe puts it quite nicely, I think:

The argument for polygamy will be based on religion, not equality. It will demand an exemption from the law of the land owing to a particular religious belief or practice. Whereas the argument in favour of same-sex marriage is the reverse: It requests an end to the anomalous treatment of lesbian and gay Canadians in respect of marriage.

Right you are, Stephen. So if legalizing polygamy is about criminal law and not equality, as I have been arguing all along, then why would it lie (exclusively, if at all) on the "gay marriage" slippery slope and not, say, on the "exempting Mennonites from conscription" slippery slope?

Because slippery slopes make no sense, is why. If the Bethany Hughes decision had gone the other way, and the government had allowed a child's family to refuse her blood transfusions on religious principles, one could have made an argument that we were "closer to polygamy" as a result. But that would have been stupid. Obviously there is no link between blood transfusions and polygamy. I have argued, with only limited success, that gay marriage and polygamy have almost as little to do with each other. The granting of rights to any group augments any other rights-seeking group's cause, but only in the strengthening of a culture that is concerned with not limiting peoples' rights without just cause. Polygamists will still have to make their deeply flawed case, to be judged on its own merits and lack thereof.

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