The Legality of Polyamory and other Pagan News of Note

Jason Pitzl-Waters —  September 10, 2010 — 3 Comments

Top Story: As I’ve covered here before, the Supreme Court of British Columbia in Canada is about to hear a case that will decide if the practice of polygamy should be considered a criminal act (as it currently is). There’s been an affidavit filed in support of decriminalizing multiple-marriage from a local Wiccan priest, and the family behind the case is a polyamorous triad. The defense is taking a “Muslims and Mormons” angle, arguing that the evils of polygamy outweigh the free expression of the families involved. Now, The Canadian Polyamory Advocacy Association (CPAA) is requesting that the government reveal if they think polyamory falls under their definition polygamy.

“The CPAA brought forward the motion Chief Justice Robert Bauman will consider on Sept 8. It was heard as part of a court reference to examine the constitutional validity of Section 293 of the Criminal Code of Canada. Section 293 bans polygamy. The CPAA wants to know if polyamorists will be caught under Section 293 should it be determined that the section is constitutional. CPAA lawyer John Ince told Bauman the attorneys general for Canada and BC have not delineated what their thinking is on the polyamorists. That, he said, makes it hard for him to prepare a case.”

Ince points out that polyamory isn’t the same as polygamy, as it isn’t patriarchal, isn’t intergenerationally normalized, and isn’t restricted by gender pairing or sexual orientation. The looming case has provoked some to wonder if polyamory is the “new gay”, making legal rights for poly families the next big social campaign after gay marriage. The biggest hurdle will be convincing the public that there’s a difference between the abusive compelled polygamous marriages often found in Fundamentalist Mormon off-shoots and polyamory. As I’ve been saying since 2006, our communities, which openly welcomes and celebrates so many polyamorous relationships (30% of poly families identify as Pagan according to one survey), needs to be ready for when this issue becomes the next culture-war battle.

“…this is an issue that will continue to gain steam as time goes by. Eventually polyamory will reach a “tipping point” and garner widespread national attention. Are our leaders and organizations ready for questions regarding polyamory? Eventually hostile questions will come, and they will cite this article, and we shouldn’t be found wanting for a clear, empathetic, and inclusive answer.”

I’d say this court case is the “tipping point” I was talking about in 2007. Even if the courts rule that polygamy should remain criminal this won’t be the end of the issue. We see here the beginnings of a movement that will argue that polyamory shouldn’t fall under the same legal restrictions of polygamy, and we might even see a ruling where the criminal code is upheld but that clarifications of the definitions essentially decriminalize the practice of polyamory. Once decriminalization is achieved, legal recognition is the logical next step. You can also be sure that a victory in Canada will embolden activists in the United States and other countries. By 2012 expect “poly rights” to be in the popular vernacular if not in the court rooms.

One Way to Handle Regulation: In Romania, where mystical attacks are taken very seriously by some politicians, a proposed law that would hold psychics liable for bad predictions has been dropped due to fears of a curse.

“The politicians who had drafted the new law claim it is because they feared they would be cursed if they passed the plans. Alin Popoviciu and Cristi Dugulescu of the ruling Democratic Liberal Party drafted a law where witches and fortune tellers would have to produce receipts, and would also be held liable for wrong predictions. Maria Campina, a well-known Romanian witch, said that it was difficult to tax thousands of fortune tellers and witches partly because of the erratic sums of money they received.”

Despite the success of Romanian witches in the political process, I don’t think threats of magical retaliation would go over as well here in America. We’ll just have to stick to using lawyers, who are far more scary a threat in our culture.

The Wicker Tree is Done: Film company British Lion has announced that post-production for The Wicker Man‘s “spiritual sequel” The Wicker Tree is now complete.

“British Lion has completed post-production on Robin Hardy’s TheWicker Man follow-up, The Wicker Tree. Hardy has reunited with British Lion CEO Peter Snell, who produced the 1973 cult horror story, for the contemporary tale about two Texan Christians who travel to the Scottish fiefdom of Tressock to spread the gospel … “The Wicker Tree is a chilling contemporary take on the genre,” Snell said. “We have a very strong cast, wonderful locations and like The Wicker Man, music plays a pivotal role in the story-telling.”

No word yet on a release date, but at least we know it’s completed. So keep your eyes open for further announcements.

PNC-Minnesota Gets Noticed: One of the goals of the Pagan Newswire Collective is to better inform mainstream media outlets concerning news happening within the modern Pagan community, so I was very happy to see the MinnPost’s The Daily Glean referencing a PNC-Minnesota story.

“A Celtic temple has opened in Northeast Minneapolis, as reported by the Pagan Newswire Collective — the small structure is the first of its kind in North America, dedicated to the Old Belief Society, which derives its beliefs from old Celtic practices. We point this out, firstly because we find it interesting, and secondly to point out just how wide we at the Glean cast our newsgathering net. Come on, who else is reading the Pagan Newswire Collective? Eric Eskola? Hardly.”

Congratulations to the Minnesota bureau! This is only the beginning, our network of bureaus continues to grow, and soon our main site will launch which will highlight and expand on the great local stories our bureaus are working on.

That’s all I have for now, have a great day!

Jason Pitzl-Waters