Aug 10, 2016

Daphne Bramham: Winston Blackmore opposes polygamy's legalization, says it would exploit women

Vancouver Sun

August 9, 2016


So, Canada’s most notorious and prolific polygamist doesn’t think polygamy should be legalized because the practise exploits women.

Isn’t that rich? The next thing you know Winston Blackmore, who has married 27 women and girls in fundamentalist religious ceremonies, will be calling himself a feminist.

Blackmore raised his sudden concern about the exploitation of women at a recent symposium in Salt Lake City that focused on the different kinds of Mormonism.

At the symposium, Blackmore didn’t elaborate much. He did say that he and his wives have declared themselves “friends” and, that he never “courted” his wives, rather many of them proposed marriage to him.

Salt Lake Tribune reporter Nate Carlisle tried to get Blackmore to explain himself after the symposium. But Blackmore said he’d been muzzled by his lawyer.

Blackmore is awaiting trial in British Columbia on one count of polygamy and has done everything that he can to have that charge quashed.

He took B.C. Attorney General Suzanne Anton to court, arguing that the special prosecutor who laid the charges was improperly appointed. He lost in B.C. Supreme Court and then lost again in the B.C. Court of Appeal earlier this year.

So, why would Blackmore argue that legalizing polygamy exploits women? Here’s an educated guess. Within fundamentalist Mormon circles, he wants to be seen as a modern guy, who is so desirable that women chase after him. But he also wants to be well-regarded as a family guy concerned about his kids. Recently when he made a court appearance in Creston, he showed up with a few of his attractive daughters rather than his wives.

Yet while he may want polygamy to be illegal for everyone else, he wants it decriminalized for himself. It’s widely expected that Blackmore intends to use his trial to challenge the constitutionality of Canada’s ban on polygamy. He’ll likely argue that it offends his guaranteed rights to freedom of expression, freedom of association and freedom of religion.

That’s what American polygamists — including Kody Brown and his reality TV family — have been arguing in and out of the courts for years.

In April, the Utah appeals court overturned a three-year-old U.S. district court ruling in the Brown case that Utah’s ban on bigamy/polygamy violated the constitutional rights to privacy and religious freedom.

What Blackmore, Brown and other fundamentalist Mormons want is for polygamy to be decriminalized for them so that they can be left alone. And if you listen to them, you’d think that there’s little harm in that.

But it bears mentioning that in a Utah court deposition a few years ago, Blackmore said that 10 of his wives were under 19 when they married him. He’s also admitted on several other occasions that some of them were only 15 or 16.

Nearly half of his under-aged wives are Americans and many came on visitor’s visas and never left. That’s left them totally dependent on Blackmore because they can’t work here legally and have no access to any government assistance or support should they chose to take their children and leave. And there are lots of children.

Over the years, Blackmore has fathered 145 children. To put this into a global context, in June, the Times of India thought it newsworthy that a 46-year-old Pakistani polygamist had 35 children and was aiming for 100.

Of course, the other curious thing about Blackmore’s symposium appearance is that a man awaiting trial — albeit the leader of a small, breakaway faction in southeastern British Columbia — was there at all.

He’s been allowed to freely travel back and forth between Canada and the U.S. ever since he was charged in 2014.

The three others from Bountiful charged at the same time had to give up their passports. They, however, were charged with the more serious offences of transporting children (their daughters) for illegal purposes, which in these cases is alleged to be for the purpose of becoming under-aged brides to other polygamous men.

But Blackmore was allowed to keep his because he argued that he needed it for business travel.

Of course, it’s no wonder that Blackmore was asked to speak at the Utah symposium. He’s about the only one who can. All of the big-time American polygamists are either in jail, awaiting trial, on the run or on parole.



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