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Polygamy Should Be Legalized In All Fifty United States.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/19/2012 Category: Politics
Updated: 4 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,515 times Debate No: 22149
Debate Rounds (4)
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"Polygamy" - A marriage that includes more than two people and that contains any mixture of genders (three wives and one husband, six husbands and no wives etc).

"All Fifty United States" - As it says...every member state in America should have Polygamy legislated. Either Federally or at the state level with no federal conflicts (for example, medical marijuana in California is legal on a state level but illegal in Federal law).

I thought this would be a fun debate because I have heard the old chestnut "legalizing gay marriage would open the door to polygamy" so many times recently.

Just so you are aware, I am not from the United States but chose to debate America's Polygamy laws because most of the members of this website are American (or at least live there and know how the country works). I will be arguing why Polygamy should be legal in all fifty of the United States (either on the state level or federal...).

First round - Acceptance and kind words.

Second round - My bop argument and and my opponents rebuttal.

Third and fourth round - Further rebuttals and closing arguments.

I would like this to be a fun debate. No meanness or anger here please :D

I am looking forward to this and good luck whoever accepts this!


Cheers, mate. Good luck.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks to Mimshot for accepting this debate. Lets have a laugh shall we?

Polygamy has been illegal in the united states since 1887 when the Edmund's-Tucker act was signed into law (even though technically the Morrill Anti-Bigamy act and the Edmunds acts got the ball rolling) And at first it may seem obvious why this was done. I don't think I need to site any references proving that most people find polygamy creepy, culty, dangerous harmful to the women involved.

And of course all of these assumptions are based on fact. Every few years it seems some terrible monster of a man is paraded on television after he commits some terrible acts in the name of polygamy (and they always look like the kind of guys who should have trouble getting one wife...).

However I believe that the Federal government should make allowances for group marriage for the following reasons.

1. It should never have been made illegal in the first place.

In the 1800s Mormonism was a hit topic. Public opinion, thanks to some sensationalist story's from the world of Mormon polygamy (some of which where invented to sell things have changed), was heavily stacked against Mormons and Polygamy (1). What followed was a series of laws designed to take away power from the Church Of Latter day saints who where buying up large stretches of land and performing group marriages that the population did not like the sound of. (2)

The only problem here is that the 1st Amendment protects freedom of religion (4). Islam and The Church Of Latter Day Saints allow Polygamy (Joseph Smith even went as far to say some men HAVE to take on multiple wives (3)).

You know what this sounds like to me? The government had something to gain by taking ownership of parts of the Church of LDS, you had a population who found Polygamy and Mormons to be a little creepy and you had everything you needed to pass a series of unconstitutional laws limiting a religious practice on the soul basis that people found it a little bit icky. I guess religious freedom is only allowed if everyone is completely comfortable with it.

2. A registration of polygamous marriages would make them safer.

Somewhere between 50,000 to 100,000 people are involved in Polygamy in the US right now (5). And we don't know who they are. We have no idea if these women are in danger. If we allowed civil polygamy to be legislated they would have to declare their marriage on the public register. Polygamy would become as safe and as protected as a conventional marriage. We already have laws that protect husbands and wives. To assume those protections would not help in a Polygamous union would have no basis.

My opponent may argue that the practicalitys of legislating for polygamous would be a nightmare (to be fair, I would hate to be the guy who has to sort out how social security would work) and that these laws would be open for abuse (what would stop a corporation marrying all it's workforce for some kind of tax benefit?) but these are not good reasons to leep an unconstitutional law that was only brought about because people thought Mormons were weird and getting too big for their boots.

Thank you for reading, and my opponent, would you like to marry me and my three friends?

(1) -

(2) -

(3) -

(4) -

(5) -


I thank my opponent for his opening argument and for initiating this debate. I will be debating against the resolution: Polygamy Should Be Legalized In All Fifty United States.

My opponent must show that the current law banning polygamy should be changed in all 50 states. I can win this debate one of two ways. I can simply refute his arguments, or I can demonstrate that at least one state should continue to ban polygamy. I will do both. First I will respond to pro's points and then I will also argue the affirmative conter-case that Nevada should not legalize polygamy.

To keep things simple, I will number pro's points P1, P2, etc. and mine C1, C2, etc.

My opponent bases his argument on two points. As we will see below, one of these points is completely irrelevant to the resolution as written. Consequently my opponent is in the precarious position of having advanced a single argument in favor of the resolution.

P1. It should never have been made illegal in the first place.
Let me first note the use of the conditional progressive "should be" in the resolution[1]. This advocates for a change of policy, thus my opponent has the burden of proof to argue that the current policy should be changed It is not simply enough to argue that the current policy was enacted for the wrong reasons (as my opponent does here). Rather, he must argue that a change in the policy as we find it now would be beneficial.

The reasons for enacting the ban in the first place are irrelvant. What matters is what the reasons for changing the current policy are. On this point, my opponent has given none.

P2. A registration of polygamous marriages would make them safer
My opponent's sole argument for changing the law nation wide is that polygamous relationships need to be made safer by "registering" them through marriage. Let's look at some of the assumptions of this argument. First, he assumes that polygamous marriages are more dangerous than conventional ones -- a fact that councils against having the government validate them. He assumes there would be some aspect of registration that would make these relationships safer. His concern for the 50 thousand people in polygamous relationships completely ignores the 12.8 million (yes 250 times more) people living together in unmarried relationships[2].

My opponent then discusses how we have laws to "protect" husbands and wives from each other. The truth is, our laws already make it a crime to abuse someone regardless of the relationship. Many domestic violence laws apply to people living together even if they aren't married[3]. If a polygamous relationship is more likely to be abusive, as my opponent concedes, then that's all the more reason it shouldn't be given governmental endorsement through marriage.

Nevada should not legalize polygamy

C1. Polygamy reduces the number of households
Nevada is suffering from a sever crash in the real estate market. It was one of the hardest hit during the housing market collapse[4]. Part of the reason housing prices are so low is because there is an over supply[5]. To fix this we want more households not fewer. Allowing polygamous marriages allow more than two adults into a household thereby decreasing the total number of households. Many construction workers are out of jobs because there is no need to build more homes. Legalizing polygamous marriage would be disastrous for the economic recovery of Nevada.

C2. Polygamy reduces the need for prostitution
Prostitution is legal in most counties in Nevada and is a major segment of the economy[6]. In a typical year legal brothels generate around $400 million in economic activity for the state[7]. One reason people use prostitutes is that they need more variety in their marriages but don't want to date because this might cause emotional stresses in the relationship. In a polygamous marriage there already is that variety. Legalizing polygamous marriage in Nevada would threaten a huge chunk of state tax revenue.

For these reasons, Nevada should not legalize polygamous marriage.


Debate Round No. 2


Thanks Mimshot! Glad I am debating you. You know your stuff :D

Furthering burden of proof.

1. I have already pointed out that the laws relating to Polygamy should be struck down because they are unconstitutional. That is my argument. This law should never have happened because it is unconstitutional and this still applys as to why this law should be struck down now. Is my opponent seriously suggesting that we should keep unconstitutional laws unless there is a clear benefit? The clear benefit is that the constitution sets out how and what laws should be enacted. These anti Polygamy laws are not constitutional. Mimshot may be correct in saying that how these laws came about are not important. But the fact remains, that these laws are unconstitutional (I have never written constitutional so much before...) because they deny freedom of Religion practice.

2. I never said that Polygamous marriages were dangerous. I am saying that making something illegal that people enjoy make those things more dangerous. Alcohol prohibition did not work because people kept drinking and the money went to bad people who committed terrible acts. The same could be said now for the war on drugs. Polygamy was not a dangerous act in the same way traditional marriage is not a dangerous act. But if you make something illegal that people want to do, people will do it anyway without the protection of the law.

And that include the laws around divorce. Polygamous arrangements should have acces to the same laws protecting people in marriage (not just from violence). If a polygamous relationship breaks down nobody can go to the courts to solve any disputes arrising.


My opponent argues that Nevada should not legalise Polygamy because it would damage the economy.

Unless millions of people in Nevada decide to get Poly-married then the results would not be catastrophic for the construction industry. That is possible, but not exactly likely.

And again, I seriously doubt that the prostitution industry would be that badly affected.

But even if these were true, are we really going to not allow a Civil right because of the economic consequences? Is that where we have got to? I have no idea how to argue this with facts apart from that some economists have argued that Civil rights advancements have benefitted the economy in the past (1). And to argue against this as immoral would be subjective and not exactly appropriate...but I have no choice.

To be against someones freedom because of the financial consequences is immoral.

I know this will probably lose this for me. But that is the only thing I can argue here.

Good luck to my opponent!



Mimshot forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3


Further arguments. Vote pro!


Mimshot forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
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