Capital C conservatives in this country might have a hard time wiping the smug “I told you so” expressions off their faces this week, after Winston Blackmore declared he would use gay marriage as a defence in his polygamy trial.
It’s ironic considering The Fundamentalist Church of Latter-day Saints donated $20-million to the yes on Proposition 8 campaign against gay marriage last year.
It’s also strange, considering Blackmore’s defence lawyer is former B.C. Liberal MLA Blair Suffredine, whose party pushed for charges against Bountiful polygamists and eventually gave the nod to same-sex marriage in the province.
And it would be funny if the whole situation didn’t make me squirm in my seat.
I don’t like to be a fence sitter, but sometimes a situation isn’t black and white. This is how I feel about polyamory. Personally, it’s not for me, but who am I to deny a person’s right to be in a loving, consenting-adult relationship with more than one person?
Polygamy is different. Maybe I’m tarring all polygamists with the same brush here, but how many polygamist marriages are out there that don’t involve one man and multiple women? None that I know of.
Winston Blackmore, for instance, is reported to have 26 wives, some of whom may have been as young as 15 when they married.
Perhaps the age of consent in Canada had not yet been raised by the time Blackmore had reportedly married these child brides, but that doesn’t mean these girls were more mature than 15-year-olds today. I also have a hard time imagining any 15-year-old girl marrying Blackmore of her own free will.
Though I don’t know the particulars of Blackmore’s relationship with his wives, I have a hard time picturing equality between the man and his 26 spouses. Were they allowed to work outside the home? Was divorce an option? Was marrying Blackmore a choice or a decision made for them?
Gay marriage, like straight marriage, is a partnership between two consenting adults who are free to end the relationship if they so choose. Its legalization is not an excuse for people like Blackmore to abuse the system and collect women like property, particularly teenage girls.
Suffredine should also know better. It’s one thing to say a case is a case and everyone deserves fair and equal representation, but to come up with an excuse that plays right into the hands of conservative anti-gay marriage activists and politicians shows he doesn’t care who he sells out to keep his client happy, or keep money in his pocket.
I admit I have a difficult time taking a hard line stance on this subject because of my belief in a person’s right to live as they please. However, when that right infringes on the rights of others, particularly historically oppressed groups like women and children, I have to draw a line.
And when the oppressor tries to use gay marriage as an excuse, I have to make some noise.