The Instigator
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4 Points
The Contender
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0 Points

Polygamy should be legalized in the United States

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/31/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,285 times Debate No: 15737
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




Polygamy: having more than one spouse at a time, whether it be a man with multiple wives or a woman with multiple husbands.

Background information: Many people falsely believe the Mormon church advocates polygamy. The church outlawed polygamy in 1890. Any member of the Mormon church who gets caught practicing polygamy will be excommunicated. There are religions that share almost identical beliefs with the Mormon church that do practice polygamy, but Mormons are very adamant about not being associated with them. Please just keep this in mind.

I think that polygamy should be legalized, but with regulations. Regulations would include requiring the parties of the marriage to be consenting adults.

Many people associate polygamy with older men marrying girls who are minors and basically committing statutory rape. As stated above, the parties would have to be consenting adults, not an adult and a minor. However, keep in mind that polygamy and statutory rape are not directly related. You can't judge polygamy as a whole based on the poor choices of a few polygamist groups. Also, statutory rape can occur in a standard nuclear family situation just as easily as it can in a polygamist family situation.

Polygamy in and of itself does not harm anyone. Yes, statutory rape and cult-like behavior that can be found with some cases of polygamy can be harmful, especially to children, but those are two completely different issues. A consenting man being married to two consenting women and having children who are not abused in any way does not infringe anyone's rights.

While I personally would not choose to lead a polygamist lifestyle, I don't see how the government or any person has the right to tell someone who does want to practice polygamy that they can't.

Thank you to whoever accepts this debate :)


I find that polygamy is more of an economic and social issue, and rather less than a moral one ,Though morality is of course an important issue. For example much of our societal benefits, both governmental and private, revolve around two spouses ex. Tax deductions, child support and custody, employee benefits etc. Denial of these benefits to those willing to take on the social constraints of marriage is one of the strongest arguments in favor of gay marriage.

If this were now expanded to polygamy, things would be turned on their head. Not that the mechanisms could not be developed otherwise, but the default is so engrained it would take a lot of doing to change things. Consider headaches with verifying that a domestic partner is really a domestic partner for those types of benefits. Now, multiply that to 3 spouses; how do we know it is not a multiple marriage just to reap the benefits? Do we now expand domestic partner benefits to multi-non-spouse households?

Socially speaking the ratio of men and women are roughly equal, When a one man/woman decides to acquire more spouses. It would leave many other women and men would essentially be left with no hope of finding a potential mate.
Another rebuttal was not that it was immoral per se, Rather polygamy rendered polygamous men unfit for democracy by accustoming them to habits of command and obedience. The a polygamous male would essentially be a kind of petty tyrant who lacked the cultural prerequisites for democratic self-government. This is why anti-polygamy legislation was also tied up with the refusal to admit Utah as a state, the disenfranchisement of polygamists (and in some jurisdictions all Mormons, monogamous or other wise), etc.
Debate Round No. 1


"Not that the mechanisms could not be developed otherwise, but the default is so engrained it would take a lot of doing to change things"

Yes, the systems could be adjusted to fit polygamous marriages as well as monogamous, and yes, it would take a good deal of work but I think it's necessary. It took a lot of time, effort, and adjustment during the Civil Rights Movement to get blacks and other minorities the rights they deserved, but it was something that had to be done in order to protect everyone's rights. Please correct me if I'm wrong, but the United States Constitution does not give anyone an actual right to marry. Different court cases have come to different conclusions about different aspects and types of marriage, but I believe that the right to marry goes hand in hand with the pursuit of happiness idea in the Declaration of Independence. Everyone deserves to be able to marry the person they love and want to commit to, as long as it doesn't harm others. (For example, an incestuous marriage would potentially harm a child born from that marriage [1]).

"How do we know it is not a multiple marriage just to reap the benefits?"
The truth is we won't know. But this isn't unique to polygamy; marriage fraud happens all the time for an assortment of reasons.

"It would leave many other women and men would essentially be left with no hope of finding a potential mate."
Let's say Ben is a single man who wants a monogamous marriage, and Lucy is a woman who is also single but wants a polygamous marriage. Ben and Lucy get along really well, but they want different types of relationships, so Lucy isn't going to want to marry Ben anyway. Worrying about people finding mates is pointless because people who want to be polygamists are still going to want to be polygamists whether it is legal or not. It's similar to gay marriage: a lesbian is just not going to want to marry a man, even though gay marriage isn't legal either.

"Polygamy rendered polygamous men unfit for democracy by accustoming them to habits of command and obedience."
Do you have proof that polygamy causes men to become accustomed to the habits of command and obedience? Regardless, this isn't something that is unique to polygamy. Every marriage, polygamous or monogamous, and every person, polygamist or monogamous, is different, so generalizing in this way doesn't accurately represent polygamy.

My argument is not about whether polygamy is right or wrong, it is whether it should be legalized or not. It should be legalized because marriage is a way that people pursue their happiness. It's very important for government to maintain a balance between the majority's rule and the minority's rights. In the case of polygamy, this hasn't been done. The majority of Americans would not choose to be polygamous, but a minority would, and should be able to legally marry.



Simply put, the government recognizes marriage as little more than an aggressive two-party contract, giving the interested parties certain tax reliefs and social benefits, but also requiring a government interest in the property and finances of the couple (so that the government has say over said property in case of, e.g., divorce). Preventing persons based on their collective sex to enter into the contract seems unfairly discriminatory too people, and as such I strongly believe in federal and state recognition of same-sex marriage. But preventing persons to enter into multiple contracts or into an entirely different kind of contract isn't discriminatory within the contract at all -- it is an entirely different kind of contract to which the government has chosen not to give benefits.

Only the most wealthy man can afford it, but many others won't realize it and will take on too many wives and children and then expect the government to take care of them. The FLDS polygamous Mormon sect took in millions in government money to keep going.

In all honesty I could care less about what the religious or cultural issues are. But when it comes to the legalization something, morality must be taken into some account. When it comes to polygamy, on the moral side statistically there is little evidence that polygamous marriages are successful. Often the polygamized party is forced into an internal caste system where in some cases the favored wife is given the majority of the income, forcing other wives to essentially beg for the money. The original Husband usually gives little care to his offspring and children, as with many cases of polygamy in which the know little of their father other than someone to be feared. In general, even if it is not the main point, morality is something that cannot be avoided.
Debate Round No. 2


How can you legislate morality? Morals are someone's beliefs about what is right and what is wrong. Morals are opinions. Yes, when it comes to something like murder, which can be viewed as an issue of morality, there are laws against it, but the difference is that murder hurts someone other than the person committing the act. Premarital sex is an issue of morality, but there aren't laws against it. There are laws against statutory rape and there is an age of consent, but again, those laws are to protect people from being hurt. As I've said before, polygamy doesn't hurt anyone.

Where is your evidence of polygamous marriages specifically not working? Unfortunately, there isn't much evidence that any type of marriage is very successful with such high divorce rates in the United States.

It seems as though many arguments you've made against polygamy are situations that are anything but unique to polygamy. A traditional family setting can result in divorce, abuse and other less than desirable circumstances.


Delirious forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Jillianl 5 years ago
I've always thought that because of the many advantages given to married couples, it would seriously disadvantage any marriage that was not polygamous if polygamy was allowed. Isn't it simply an issue of benefits and not an issue of morality at all?
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit. Pro had strong uniqueness arguments anyway.