After reading the book, The Secret Lives of Saints by Daphne Branham, I like to think I’m up to date on the whole polygamy issue in both the U.S. and Canada. I gotta say, it’s sticky.
On one hand, you have these fundamentalist Mormon men (Winston Blackmore and James Oler), charged with polygamy, claiming religious persecution–a violation of their Canadian rights. They are also arguing that because homosexuality has been included into the definition of marriage, there is no reason that polygamy can’t be also.
The other side, religious practices are not grounds for taking away other more important rights, such as the right to equality, freedom to choose who you marry and the right to education–most of which are pulled out from underneath the women and children in these sects.
Here’s where it gets tricky: If you ask these women, they will try to convince you that they are not oppressed, that they love their lifestyle and that they deserve the right to marry their polygamous husbands.
It blows my mind. I almost feel bad for the women in the same way I would if I was talking to a certifiably insane person who was trying to convince me he or she is not crazy. It must be very frustrating for them, because they *really* believe what they’re saying.
I anticipate a future argument when this all goes to trial: If these women want to be in these sects, shouldn’t we let them be? Well no, I argue we shouldn’t. Just because someone doesn’t realize to what extent they’re being disenfranchised doesn’t mean we should ignore it. But some disagree with me. This is the question for today: if someone says they’re happy in a situation where their rights are clearly being compromised, do we intervene or not?
(Just to be clear, this particular issue with polygamous sects also involves the rights of children, who should absolutely be taken out of these villages).