In Canada test case, polys' challenges called "the most carefully thought out and articulated."
Closing arguments began yesterday in the test case to determine the validity of Canada's broad anti-polygamy law. The law, reportedly unenforced for some 60 years, is so all-encompassing that it provides up to five years in prison for anyone in a committed polyamorous relationship — even if no one is married, and even if no one has sex. The attorney for the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA), which formed to fight the law, is scheduled to summarize the CPAA's position on [updated:] Wednesday April 13th.
Yesterday's testimony was covered by the longtime anti-polygamy writer for the Vancouver Sun. She reports that the government's lead lawyer conceded that, of all the law's opponents who have appeared in court, the CPAA presented the most cogent case.
Closing arguments begin in Bountiful polygamy case
By Daphne Bramham
VANCOUVER – Lawyers for the [British Columbia] government began their closing argument Monday in BC Supreme Court in the constitutional reference case to determine the validity of Canada's polygamy law.
Both the provincial and federal attorneys general contend that the law is constitutional.
But this is challenged by a court-appointed amicus, the BC Civil Liberties Association, and the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.
"A polygamous society consumes its young," lead lawyer Craig Jones said. "It arms itself with instruments of abuse and shields itself behind institutions of secrecy, insularity and control."
Jones went on to say that is is "anti-democratic, anti-egalitarian, anti-liberal and antithetical to the proper functioning of any modern, rights-based society."...
The closings will also summarize key testimony from more than two months of evidence.
...When multi-partner, conjugal relationships are like “duplicative marriages,” Jones said they are criminal regardless of whether the individuals are heterosexual, gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
Although he said ‘duplicative marriage’ need not be “exhaustively defined in advance,” Jones said all conjugal relationships involving more than two people are criminal if they go beyond “mere cohabitation” and have some form of imposed consequences related to entering or remaining in the relationship. [Update: see the correction to this in the first comment below.]
That said, Jones told Chief Justice Robert Bauman that the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association’s closing submission is the most carefully thought out and articulated position of any of the challengers.
However, he suggested that Chief Justice Robert Bauman reject the argument even though Jones said it provides fodder for social philosophers and policy makers.
Apart from the unusual subject matter and unusual trial format for a constitutional reference, the chief justice has taken the unusual step of allowing CBC [the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation] to livestream the closing arguments.
Read the whole article (March 28, 2011). Later version.
So the CPAA's attorney, John Ince, will get to explain polyamory and present testimony for its validity on TV (or at least computer screens) all across the nation. He did a great job in his one previous day in court last November.
Watch the live stream. CPAA activist Carole Chanteuse writes:
The closing arguments can be seen live between March 28 and April 14, between 10 am and 4 pm Pacific Time (with usual court breaks).
March 28-30 are the closing arguments of the governments. Of particular interest to polyamorists will be the arguments of Westcoast LEAF (April 1), the Amicus (April 4, then April 11/12), the BC Civil Liberties Association the 13th, and most importantly those of the Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association on [April 12]. The governments will wrap up their reply on April 14.
Update March 29: Continuing his closing argument, Jones "said again today that CPAA brought thoughtful arguments that are useful to the court working through this issue," writes Jasmine W., who was watching the stream. "He of course went on to rebut those arguments and try to discount polyamory; that's his job after all. Nevertheless, he admitted in court that CPAA was thoughtful and persuasive!"
Here are the CPAA's written closing submissions that will be presented verbally.
Here are Google News's other current news reports on the case. Here's the subset of these articles that mention polyamory, including one in the GLBT paper Xtra that leads with the subject.
Big thanks to the hardworking CPAA volunteers, who have been at this for more than a year, and to the donors who've contributed to keep the effort going thus far.
It won't be over when the judge rules. The losing side will almost certainly appeal to Canada's federal Supreme Court, and eventually Parliament may take up a rewrite of the law.