Why is polygamy illegal?


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    My wife has a bad habit of watching really shitty television. But, occasionally, she stumbles upon good TV. Something worth watching. One of those shows is "My Five Wives" and it is about a polygamist family. Now, I am no traditionalist. Not in the slightest. As I watched this show, I noticed that this family really has their shit together. They get along. They seem to spread the workload of a family out really well.

    Yeah, a fair amount of that is probably for the benefit of the TV audience. I get that. But seriously, why is polygamy illegal?

    If I want to have a woman on the side, and my wife were OK with it, that is fine.

    If I want to support some other woman, and my wife is OK with it, that is fine.

    If I father other children, that is not illegal whether my wife is OK with it or not.

    So why is polygamy illegal?

    I am no friend to religion. I am what most would consider a "militant atheist". I hate all religions equally. They are all shit. But this seems like a set of laws that were enacted with 100% the intentions of discriminating against Mormons (and, I consulted our resident Mormon to make sure he was OK with this thread before I posted it, and he is free to chime in).

    I am not cool with laws that their only purpose is to discriminate against one religion. If they want to repeal the BS law that grants churches an exemption from most forms of taxation, I am all for it. Equal application of the law. But the banning of polygamy (and especially the prohibition of "cohabitation" in Utah) seems like a set of laws that were explicitly passed in order to discriminate against Mormons, and I cannot see any other reason.



  • Unless the law was created recently, I don't think it was meant to discriminate against anyone in particular. I assume it is just a holdover from the prominent religion(s) that existed at the time.

    I think there is no good answer to your question of why - perhaps ask a religious text?



  • @Polygeekery I also think it's mostly because of religion, as you see in most parts of world where the Church have little influrence, polygamy is not considered illegal.

    Also, in the world of mammals, you can see "the strongest male in the realm can mate with most female" is the norm.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @LB_ said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Unless the law was created recently, I don't think it was meant to discriminate against anyone in particular. I assume it is just a holdover from the prominent religion(s) that existed at the time.

    Yeah, but those laws were enacted at a time when Mormonism was being shunned. It seems as though an extremely reasonable case could be made that those laws are discriminatory and were intended to be so.

    So why is it still illegal? We have moved on from those days.

    And yes, it goes without saying that marrying underage girls, etc., should be illegal. But if my wife and I wanted to have another wife, why would that be illegal?

    Not saying that is something that I would want. I always tell her I would never cheat because she is enough of a pain in the ass that I would never do such a thing. That includes polygamy. But....if that is something a couple wants to do....why should it be illegal? Is there any good reason?



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  • Polygamy is rooted in poly.

    Like polymaths.

    One of which is algebra.

    Which means al-jabr.

    Which is abrabic muslim.

    9/11.


  • Grade A Premium Asshole

    @Lorne-Kates I knew this would devolve to a flamewar shitfest. I just did not see it taking that turn...


  • area_can

    @Lorne-Kates has anyone named a corollary to Godwin's law that applies to 9/11? Maybe Lorne's Corollary?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    I can't speak for the law.

    In my personal life, I've found myself involved a few polyamorous relationships (both directly and indirectly), and I can speak from experience that that shit is a house of cards. It's probably possible to pull off without jealousy becoming a major factor, but I haven't seen it work that way in practice.

    I have no good reasons why it should be illegal, but it doesn't seem like a great idea. It seems to work better in theory than in practice, in my opinion.

    Edit: to elaborate, I have dated two women who were in "open marriages" when I started seeing them. Both are now separated/divorced. I plan to marry the second one, and not have an open marriage.



  • Regardless of whether polygamy should be legal or illegal from a law standpoint, there are tons of little caveats and complications that need to be considered that a polygamous relationship would introduce under the current laws we have now.

    If someone has, say, 5 wives, and one of them decides to divorce, then what kinds of custody rights does that wife have assuming they have children? Certainly one may say that a child that she bore herself might be more justified for longer custody than another's, but in a case where the child is in a household where all the adults have equal influence, that's not so black-and-white.

    What about alimony and assets? If one of the 5 wives breaks it off, is she entitled to 1/6 of the assets? What kinds of alimony is she entitled to?

    What kinds of tax deductions does a 5-wife household have? Should a household with 6 spouses have more deductions than a mere 2-spouse household?



  • @Polygeekery said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    But this seems like a set of laws that were enacted with 100% the intentions of discriminating against Mormons

    (And Muslims.)



  • @Polygeekery
    we didn't had mormons, yet polygamy is a crime here, i think it's more like what @LB_ said, the view of a religion enforced through law.

    also, don't be a chauvinist pig and include the case when a woman wants to have two husbands



  • @LB_ said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    I think there is no good answer to your question of why - perhaps ask a religious text?

    Or, write your congressman.



  • @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    In my personal life, I've found myself involved a few polyamorous relationships (both directly and indirectly), and I can speak from experience that that shit is a house of cards. It's probably possible to pull off without jealousy becoming a major factor, but I haven't seen it work that way in practice.

    I've had a few people scoff at my "old-fashioned" ideas of monogamy - that polyamory is "just two people at a time getting together for sex and having fun with no consequences." Yeah, right.

    Edit: to elaborate, I have dated two women who were in "open marriages" when I started seeing them. Both are now separated/divorced. I plan to marry the second one, and not have an open marriage.

    You probably don't need me to remind you of the inherent risks, but conventional wisdom is that if she's cheating on someone to be with you, you may find yourself in that someone's position next....


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Groaner said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    You probably don't need me to remind you of the inherent risks, but conventional wisdom is that if she's cheating on someone to be with you, you may find yourself in that someone's position next....

    They weren't cheating on their spouses. The terms of their respective relationships allowed them to see people outside of their marriage. Those marriages destabilized, and I don't think it was a coincidence.



  • Why is marriage?

    Why not just have all groups of people living in one house be equal?



  • For a completely non-religious reason, I assume it's because marriage is a legal contract that grants certain rights and authority regarding the other person, particularly when it comes to medical issues. Normally, if a person is incapable of making any medical decisions (e.g. due to mental illness or coma), that person's spouse can make the decisions for them. If a person has more than one spouse, who gets to make the final decision? You could have separate legal documents granting one of your spouses final authority, or you could do a majority vote if you have more than two spouses, but at that point you're already modifying the standard marriage contract.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Polygeekery said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    But seriously, why is polygamy illegal?

    In the US, it probably has a lot to do with Mormonism as you suggest.

    But in general, relationships--or so I have been told--are hard. (I was fortunate enough that my wife and I were such kindred spirits we basically didn't argue, and barely disagreed.) The more people you mix in, the more relationships, and (probably) the likelihood of instability, or two people just not getting along. (The closest non-marriage example I can think of is that in college, my wife and I rented a room in a house, and another person rented another room. The three of us and the landlord got along well, but we went through three or four other renters in one year that just didn't work out because they didn't get along well with at least one of us.

    It's a lot easier to simply ban stuff that's hard, which is probably why so many people are keen to do it.

    Shoulder alien note: I am expressing no opinion of how I feel about what I said above, so don't assume one way or another what I feel about group marriage.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    I have no good reasons why it should be illegal, but it doesn't seem like a great idea.

    I provided a reason in my previous post. I make no representation it's a good one, except that the idea of banning something that may be fraught with problems is certainly easier than trying to work it out.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @blakeyrat said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    (And Muslims.)

    That was not likely to be much of a concern when the anti-polygamy laws in the US were passed.



  • @Polygeekery said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    why is polygamy illegal?

    So that fuckwits like Cory Bernardi can have something to use as a halfway mark down their predicted slippery slope from marriage equality to bestiality.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @flabdablet said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    @Polygeekery said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    why is polygamy illegal?

    So that fuckwits like Cory Bernardi can have something to use as a halfway mark down their predicted slippery slope from marriage equality to bestiality.

    Let's prove him right, then.


    Filed under: Wait, bestiality is already legal.



  • @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Filed under: Wait, bestiality is already legal.

    Isn't that what happens in Mortal Kombat when you turn into an animal and rape your opponent to death?



  • @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Filed under: Wait, bestiality is already legal.

    Lawyercat always asks for consent first!



  • @The_Quiet_One said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    but in a case where the child is in a household where all the adults have equal influence

    That is not covered in US law? Under Belgiumed law these could apply for visiting rights e.g. the court can assign the right to have contact with the child without the consent of the guardian. For example if I divorce my wife I can apply for contact rights with the children of her previous marriage.




  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @Luhmann said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    @ben_lubar
    0_1466572228178_upload-034b3348-b8c0-4685-9162-62b00c21a376

    The cat was dressed very provocatively, your honor.



  • @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    dressed very provocatively

    You like real fur?


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @ben_lubar said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    dressed very provocatively

    You like real fur?

    A spiked collar. That slut.


    Filed under: That I bought and put on her.



  • @error said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    spiked collar



  • @Dragnslcr said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    For a completely non-religious reason, I assume it's because marriage is a legal contract that grants certain rights and authority regarding the other person, particularly when it comes to medical issues. Normally, if a person is incapable of making any medical decisions (e.g. due to mental illness or coma), that person's spouse can make the decisions for them. If a person has more than one spouse, who gets to make the final decision? You could have separate legal documents granting one of your spouses final authority, or you could do a majority vote if you have more than two spouses, but at that point you're already modifying the standard marriage contract.

    Btw, for a lot of legal contexts, something that introduce ambiguity / unclearness does not automatically make that "something" illegal, or I believe a lot of business shall not continue to function.

    Say, perheps it'd be illegal to have more than 1 child for those married couples.



  • @Polygeekery said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    I am not cool with laws that their only purpose is to discriminate against one religion. If they want to repeal the BS law that grants churches an exemption from most forms of taxation, I am all for it. Equal application of the law. But the banning of polygamy (and especially the prohibition of "cohabitation" in Utah) seems like a set of laws that were explicitly passed in order to discriminate against Mormons, and I cannot see any other reason.

    Poligamy is banned all over the world, not just in USA.

    And yes, it doesn't make logical sense elsewhere either. I guess societies are trying to KISS regarding marriage, so as to reduce the number of strange uncomfortable setups they have to deal with.



  • @cartman82 said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Poligamy is banned all over the world, not just in USA.

    And yes, it doesn't make logical sense elsewhere either. I guess societies are trying to KISS regarding marriage, so as to reduce the number of strange uncomfortable setups they have to deal with.

    Really, I remember Stanley Ho has 4 wives, so I assume it legal at least under Portuguese law.



  • @cartman82 said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Poligamy is banned all over the world,

    If you use a fox-ed definition of all over the world. Try Western world. It seems to be a FWP.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @cartman82 said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Poligamy is banned all over the world, not just in USA.

    I believe there are parts of the world where it's legal, but they're the exceptions.


  • Winner of the 2016 Presidential Election

    @ben_lubar said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Why is marriage?

    The only justification for the legal concept of marriage is that married couples take financial and certain legal responsibilities for each other, which is beneficial to both the state and people who have contracts with one of the spouses.

    This is one of the reasons why banning both same-sex marriage and polygamy is so stupid: There is absolutely no justification for that from a legal POV.

    (Yes, married couples usually also raise children together, but that's completely optional, so it doesn't justify a conservative concept of marriage. If the state wants to reward people for taking responsibility for kids, they shouldn't reward couples for being married, but for actually raising children.)


  • BINNED

    I don't think there's anything wrong with polygamy, but it can be very complicated. The laws around its would have to cover a lot of cases and there would be loopholes everywhere. In practical terms, I've also been involved in a polyamorous relationship and it convinced me that it's not for me but some people can keep it together and I don't think they should be stopped


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @cartman82 said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Poligamy is banned all over the world, not just in USA.

    And yes, it doesn't make logical sense elsewhere either. I guess societies are trying to KISS regarding marriage, so as to reduce the number of strange uncomfortable setups they have to deal with.

    Time to bring this out again?

    How to construct a database to account for marriage....

    To be blunt, the systems aren't set up to handle it. The paper forms have a space for the husband's name and a space for the wife's name. Married people carefully enter their details in block capitals and post the forms off to depressed paper-pushers who then type that information into software front-ends whose forms are laid out and named in precisely the same fashion. And then they hit "submit" and the information is filed away electronically in databases which simply keel over or belch integrity errors when presented with something so profound as a man and another man who love each other enough to want to file joint tax returns.

    Much later...

    For a marriage to involve precisely two people is as closed-minded as marriages involving people of opposing sexes. Why shouldn't a marriage involve more than two people? Admittedly, it's highly unconventional, and the sheer psychology of mere trigamy is highly complex; you have to be special to make a polymarriage work. But special people are out there and they have made it work so why not codify this legally? And electronically?



  • @cartman82 said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Poligamy is banned all over the world, not just in USA.

    Except for certain parts of it:

    Light blue means legal, dark blue means illegal but not a criminal offense, green means legal only for muslims. (says Wikipedia)



  • ObCatskillJoke:

    Q: What's the maximum penalty for bigamy?
    A: Two mothers-in-law.



  • @cheong said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    Really, I remember Stanley Ho has 4 wives, so I assume it legal at least under Portuguese law.

    Not a lawyer, but I seriously doubt it. (can't be arsed to go read about it)

    From what I'm reading off of https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stanley_Ho#Personal_life he had two actual wives (under two different countries) and two :v: "wives" :v: .



  • I think there's also some factor of cultural evolution. I think polygamy probably has some destabilizing effects at that level. Wealthy and powerful men start taking more women out of the market, leaving many young men without marriage prospects. Unattached and uncivilized young men are bad.

    Add that to the difficulties already mentioned at the micro level, and I think you have a recipe for monogamous institutions developing and becoming traditions and such a deep part of the culture that eventually you get laws, possibly due to contact with non-monogamous cultures.

    Like many here, my libertarian mind finds it difficult to justify making laws about it but I am no less convinced that polygamy is worse than monogamy as a cultural institution.



  • I'm pretty anti-marriage in general but polygamy still feels 'wrong' to me, both practically and morally.

    I also feel the same about having more than two children, so my opinion probably doesn't count for much ;)



  • I just saw this yesterday and I think it belongs here:



  • @boomzilla said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    I think there's also some factor of cultural evolution. I think polygamy probably has some destabilizing effects at that level. Wealthy and powerful men start taking more women out of the market, leaving many young men without marriage prospects. Unattached and uncivilized young men are bad.

    The term "polygamy" doesn't just cover polygyny (one man marrying several women), but any arrangement called "marriage" involving more than 2 people (in various combinations). I agree with you that the wealthy and powerful making life even crappier for the poor is bad, but this is not the whole story when you talk about polygamy.



  • @anonymous234 something something fraudulent marriage, something something.

    But i sympathize, i actually had to drop out of college because my dad had a house fire, and maxed his credit cards with repair bills, and two years of student loans maxed what i was eligible for without parent cosign.

    What's really fucked are fafsa rules about who is a minor.



  • @Khudzlin said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    but this is not the whole story when you talk about polygamy.

    True. But it seems like polygyny is pretty much the dominant form. Other stuff is for the occasional hippie / SF author.



  • @boomzilla said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    True. But it seems like polygyny is pretty much the dominant form. Other stuff is for the occasional hippie / SF author.

    Agreed. And there is reason too. Males have greater sexual desire than female. And also, when female got pregnant, they usually prefer not to have sex. On the other hand, pregnancy do not have much effect on the intention / ability to enjoy sex to their male partners.



  • @FrostCat said in Why is polygamy illegal?:

    I was fortunate enough that my wife and I were such kindred spirits we basically didn't argue, and barely disagreed.

    That sounds a lot like my parents. They had a wonderful marriage. Unfortunately, since they hardly had any conflict to resolve, I grew up without learning how to resolve conflict. Then I met my now-ex-wife. Her family dynamic was to attack until the other person surrendered; that did not work well for us.



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