The Instigator
Pro (for)
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The Contender
Con (against)
8 Points

Polygamous marriage should be legal

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Post Voting Period
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after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 2/24/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,186 times Debate No: 46585
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (3)




Polygamous marriage should be legalized. I am not talking about the kind of polygamy where a man can have multiple wives and the woman can have only one husband. I am talking about everyone having an equal right to choose who they want to marry regardless of whether they are already married. In this case, the person(or people) one is already married to, would also have to give consent.

John is married to Sarah. He now wants to also get married to Nick. In this case, Sarah would have to agree that her husband is marrying another person in order for Nick and John to get married.

The aim is to reduce divorce rates. Current divorce rates are high for several reasons, one of them being people not being able to satisfy 100% of their partners' needs which is totally normal and natural. This often leads to so-called "cheating" and seeking out to get one's needs satisfied elsewhere which leads to jealousy and that's one of the biggest problems destroying relationships. If society accepted polyamory and polygamous marriage as a norm, people could live together in harmony and accept that their partner loving other people as well doesn't mean their partner does not love them anymore. It simply means that the partner needs something different for a change. Allowing polygamous marriages would eliminate the issue of jealousy in several relationships because if one does not feel like they own the other person entirely, there is nothing to be jealous for.

People often claim that monogamy is a sign of civilisation and intelligence of the human kind. They say that we are able to be monogamous because we have evolved to a point where we are mentally capable enough to do so. When we look at the divorce rates, it does not seem to me that humans can handle monogamy very well. Some can, some can't. This is why I think everyone should have a choice of whether they want to be in a monogamous marriage or a polygamous marriage. This does not force anyone to be polygamous but gives the people that already are that way a chance to share their lives with the people they love.

A problem that some people have with this idea is the concern over children. I personally don't see how having more than two loving adults in their lives can affect children negatively. I don't think it would confuse them either. The people who are afraid that the children would be confused might just as well be confused themselves.

Legalizing polygamous marriage would reduce divorce rates by helping people become less jealous and more loving. The changes would be gradual but definite. Polygamous marriage does no harm to children nor adults and allowing it would do more good than damage.


I'd like to thank my opponent for what looks to be an interesting debate. Since there were no conditions set up, I will be using this round to state my position and the coming rounds for refutations to Pro's arguments.


This is true in many aspects, including the very fabric of relationships. Issues can result from tension in regards to burden of income, conjugal rights, household responsibility, etc. Legally speaking, problems can arise from an asymmetrical balance of power in the relationship. Given the scenario of divorce, how would legal proceedings go? Would each partner have to agree to the divorce? What if spouse A wanted to divorce spouse B, but spouse C didn't want to divorce either of them? Whatever the solution, involved partners would have disproportionate rights.


Though the decriminalization of polygamy would, in theory, give women as much the opportunity to marry multiple men as it would for men to marry multiple women, in practice, it would work out quite differently. A survey taken of the world's traditional societies reveals that 83.39% practice polygyny (a man marrying multiple women) and only .47% practice polyandry (a woman marrying multiple men). Of those in polyandrous societies, the majority partake in what is known as 'fraternal polyandry', where a group of brothers will marry one woman. Non-fraternal polygamy is 'virtually non-existent in human society'. ( This is an inconsistency that naturally places women in a subordinate position and lends support to a male-dominant society due to the structural inequality that polygamy innately holds.


Due to the high accounts of inbreeding among polygamous families, they are also at risk for genetic disorders. That includes severe mental retardation, epileptic seizures, and sometimes, even early death. ( Additionally, partners in a polygamous marriage have an increased risk for STDs, including HIV/AIDS. (


Numerous studies conducted attribute polygamous marriages with many negative effects on the children and women involved. The problems associated with polygamous marriage include but are not limited to higher levels of psychological distress, low self-esteem, behavioral problems in children, and low levels of academic success. ( Ultimately, when an individual has a problem and interacts with society, society has a problem.


Due to the complexity and numerous forms the relationship could take (polygynous, polyandrous, polyamorous), the practical legal aspect of polygamy would be quite difficult to overcome. In a marriage with three men and two women, who gets child custody? If one of the partners is in a coma, which of the partners gets to make medical decisions if there is a disagreement? Additionally, what if one man were to marry hundreds of people just to grant them the immigration benefits that marriage to a US citizen provides? Should there be a limit on number of spouses?

I will conclude here and look forward to my opponent's arguments.
Debate Round No. 1


My response to contention 1:

If partner A wanted to divorce partner B, partner C would not have to divorce either of them. This is entire up to the partners how they want to solve the issue. When writing my arguments I was focusing on the scenario where multiple people are married to one person, I didn't really consider three people being married all together to each other but I still support it no matter how it's arranged. There are also imbalances in monogamous marriages in terms of power, household responsibilities etc and I don't quite see how polygamy itself makes it more asymmetrical. Did you perhaps mean it creates an imbalance when an odd number of people are involved in a marriage? I still don't quite see how this is especially affecting polygamy more than monogamy.

My response to contention 2:

Many of those traditional societies have been undeveloped in social justice issues and they have been much more male-dominant and sexist than the modern western society. Therefore I can't quite see how we can use that as a basis for making assumptions about what would happen if polygamous marriage was legal today, in the western society.

My response to contention 3:

To prevent STDs, there needs to be more information on safe sex. Not allowing people to get married to multiple people doesn't stop them from having unsafe sex. Men who have penetrative sex with men also have a higher risk of STDs because sex education is often heteronormative and many men don't even know how to have safe sex with another man. This is not yet a reason to not legalize gay marriage. Inbreeding is reproduction from the mating of pairs who are closely related genetically. This article talks about inbreeding in a specific community not all polygamous families in general. Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm a human too, I can miss something or misunderstand things you know :)

My response to contention 4:

Higher levels of psychological distress, low self-esteem, behavioral problems in children, and low levels of academic success are signs of unhealthy relationships and also occur in monogamous marriage.

My response to contention 5:

Each person should decide who gets to decide for them if they're in a coma etc when they get married. Child custody is up to the partners to decide. If they disagree, the case would be solved in court just like in monogamous marriages when the couple divorces.

How would you address my arguments on the jealousy and dependence issue I brought up in my first set of arguments?


Thanks to Pro for his response. It's been an enjoyable debate thus far.

Pro seems to contradict himself by stating that a partner seeking out fulfillment elsewhere leads to jealousy, and yet legalizing polygamy should eliminate it. There is no clear reason outlined defining why that would be different should polygamy be legalized. As marriage isn't about one spouse 'feel[ing] like they own another person entirely', the problem of jealousy would still exist.

Another problem with Pro's argument is that it assumes the divorce rates are a result of the institution of monogamy itself, as opposed to other, more likely, factors. Infidelity in a marriage is a sign that there is something wrong with the marriage. One psychologist says that the majority of her encounters with clients having affairs is due to an 'inner-emptiness', derived from 'self-abandonment'. If that is the case, seeking fulfillment externally will not benefit the situation. (

Another study conducted reveals that in 92% of cases, men weren't unfaithful primarily due to sex. The study suggested the reason for infidelity was 'emotional disconnection, specifically a sense of feeling under appreciated.' ( If the problem exists within the relationship itself, it makes sense to fix it within the relationship, not to look for short-term fix outside the relationship that ultimately will bring its own host of problems.

One reason children may be confused in a family practicing polygamy is lack of consistent guidance. Even given the scenario that the adults decide who has primary responsibility over which children, polygamous households create an environment where a child does not need to listen to some of the adults some of the time. This lack of consistency can cause much confusion during a child's development.

C1: The scenario I gave would apply just as well to a polyandrous/polygynous marriage as it would a polyamorous marriage. A woman who found she was unsatisfied with one of her husband's other partners would be unable to institute a divorce between them. In fact, the woman's options would be limited to either accepting all partners involved, or divorcing her husband. Due to the larger numbers of people, the possibilities for numerous scenarios of asymmetrical responsibility/power are almost endless. Whenever there are more than two people in a marriage, the imbalance created will be much greater than if there were only two.

C2: The institute of polygamy intrinsically favors a male-dominant society. We can take a look at polygamy already existing in the US today. We'll find that it is practiced largely by religious groups, including Mormon fundamentalists and some Muslims. Both religious groups maintain that women may not marry multiple husbands, while men may marry multiple wives. This is an example of how, even in America, polygamy will ultimately favor a male-dominant society. (

C3: Identifying that this problem exists elsewhere is not reason enough to negate the issue.

C4: Though what my opponent has said is true, these studies were done comparing monogamous relationships to polygamous ones. The results show that polygamous marriages have higher levels of unhealthy relationships than do monogamous relationships.

C5: Though such problems can be taken up in court, the wide range of variation polygamous marriages hold make it inevitable that there will be issues cropping up often, not just in divorce, but in the general distribution of rights in a marriage. This also doesn't answer the problem with taking advantage of polygamy in regards to immigration benefits.

I only have a few characters left, so I will conclude here. Looking forward to Pro's response.
Debate Round No. 2


JakobTheSjw forfeited this round.


My opponent has forfeited this round, so I extend all arguments and encourage readers to vote. Thanks to Pro for initiating the debate.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by MoralityProfessor 3 years ago
Hey, I just realized you're relatively new here. If you have any questions, feel free to ask. Also, one of the voting aspects that voters look at is sources. I noticed you haven't posted any, so you may want to look into that. (Sources are worth two points.)
If you have any questions in regards to that, I don't mind questions at all. (And if I can't answer them, I can probably direct you to someone who can.)

Anyway, I'm enjoying the debate so far, so thanks!
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Vote Placed by zmikecuber 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Better arguments, and a FF
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Vote Placed by Mikal 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Cons contentions remained untouched due to pros final FF.