Saturday, March 26, 2011

Polygamy Case to Test Canada's Marriage Laws; Court in BC: Polygany Protected by Rel. Freedom

The Voice of America website reports today (March 26, 2011) that a court case in the Canadian province of British Columbia (BC) has the potential to overturn Canadian laws on marriage, which have banned polygamy since 1892.

BC Chief Justice Robert Bauman will decide whether polygamous marriage -- as currently practiced by members of a breakaway Mormon sect -- is protected by the Canadian constitution's guarantee of freedom of religion.

The case is rooted in a 2009 court decision to throw out polygamy charges against two men -- James Oler and Winston Blackmore -- the leaders of competing offshoots of the Mormon Church in a small settlement called Bountiful. The court dropped the charges based on the constitution's protection of religious freedom.

Grant Huscroft -- a law professor at the University of Western Ontario -- said, "The federal government has always taken the view that the law is constitutional." He added, "The responsibility for enforcing and prosecuting the law lies with each province."

British Columbia is a Canadian province that has not been enforcing and prosecuting the polygamy law.

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