The Unlikely Union of Same-Sex Marriage, Polygamy and the Charter in Court

Matthew Hennigar

Abstract


For several years now, I have been doing work on litigation surrounding same-sex mar- riage (SSM), and when I present my research (both at conferences and informally over drinks), I am almost invariably asked how court decisions legalizing SSM1 will affect the laws against polygamy. As a recent article in the To- ronto Star observed,2 gay marriage is often seen as a “slippery slope” to polygamy; some argue that it opens the jurisprudential door to other fundamental challenges to the traditional, mo- nogamous definition of marriage.3 For example, it is true that the Supreme Court of Canada de- cisively rejected the government’s argument in the SSM cases that the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms4 was not intended to revo- lutionize fundamental social institutions. Re- cent developments in British Columbia appear likely to put this contention to the test.


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