Ethical Theories vs. Marriage Equality

Ethical Theories vs. Marriage Equality

Freedom of choice is one of the fundamental rights of human beings in any society as long as it does not infringe on the freedom of other citizens. Therefore, the freedom to marry a person of one’s choice should not be curtailed at any point in time. Marriage is termed as legal unions that encompass two people who are ready to live, accommodate, and understand each other. However, it is beyond recon to notice that some societies have decided to demoralize, negatively talk about, or even ban and forbid same-sex marriage. Looking at it critically, one will realize that just like any traditional marriage majorly based on a female and male relationship, gay marriage takes into consideration the strong feelings the two people feel, such that they decide to entangle themselves with marriage vows. Therefore, the question that arises is whether there are any ethical reasons the society should be opposed to marriage equality.


Marriage equality does not simply involve the aspect of gay marriage, as the latter is a rather shallow approach in considering marriage equality. Gay marriage has over time been negatively publicized in some sections of the society. However, marriage equality has a hidden significance and value because it rests on the principle of love and legal relationships between two people. This position has been viewed positively by some societies. For instance, the United States is one of the nations that allowed marriage equality within its borders. Additionally, many liberal political individuals in the society uphold the view of allowing marriage equality. Moreover, different celebrities have supported this point of view and have openly confessed that adhering to the liberal approach in the society is the best step in allowing the union of two loving people. A number of these celebrities have also indulged in marriage equality. Marriage equality is reliant on the legal reunion as opposed to the religious provision. Our current society is majorly based on the freedom of religion. It means that changing the marriage spectrum based on the religious provisions does not have a weight. The ethical consideration of marriage equality can be described by the five major ethical theories that have been developed over time.

Ethical Theories and Marriage Equality


The major approach undertaken by the theory of utilitarianism is that the end always justifies the means. According to this theory, an aspect is termed as positive or appealing to an individual if it leads to a positive outcome in the end, brings pleasure, and avoids harm to the largest extent. Essentially, the theory emphasizes that the best moral action undertaken by a person in the society is the one that maximizes utility. The utility is described in different ways; however, in most cases, it is related to the overall well-being of an entity in the society. For any utilitarian to make a well-judged decision, which is termed as good in the community, they should often establish an equation that focusses on two aspects. They include a bad action that supersedes any goodness in it and a good aspect that exceeds any negativity in it.

Marriage equality brings about a number of factors to take into consideration. Nevertheless, it is crucial to culminate all the factors into one general equation to enable easy analysis. If the current marriage act is to be extended, two likely outcomes will arise due to the change. First, there are those who will not benefit from the change. Consequently, these individuals will term the change as a negative approach to their well-being. Considering the harm, such change can be stipulated as an indirect harm because it does not lead to direct damage of the personal life of the people who are against the extension. On the other side, there are those who will be positively affected by an extension or change in the laws. In particular, same-sex couples will greatly benefit from such a provision because such individuals will no longer be required to adhere to the acts that the communities term as morally upright. They will be well equipped to marry their chosen partners without being constrained by the provisions of the society. Considering the negatively and positively affected people, it is imperative to note that the positively affected ones outweigh the indirectly affected, denoting that the utilitarianism approves marriage equality.


The theory of deontology seems to take an opposite approach to the theory of utilitarianism. The generalization of the theory is that the means justifies the end. In this case, the main aspect that is immensely considered is the action itself and not the results of the action. The major reason for such a consideration is that the action is the one that is mainly tied to any goodness or badness that any decision has. Deontology is bound by the rules of ethics. For instance, it is under the deontological theory that such rules arise, as thou shalt not kill. The key aspect linked to the deontological rule is its universality, meaning that the rules apply to everyone in a given situation. The first formulation depicted by deontology is that a true moral proposition must not be tied to any particular condition or should not at any point exclude the identity of a person who stands to make a decision. The theory of deontology stipulates that a moral maxim must be disconnected from any instances of physical provisions that surround any specific proposition. Further, the theory must be applicable to any rational being.

The first imperative of the deontological theory emanates from the proposition of the golden rule that emphasizes that individuals ought to do to others what they would want to be done to them. The second provision emphasizes that any action should be considered not only as a principle but also as an end. Thus, for an end to be pursued effectively, it needs to be pursued in a categorical approach. In this case, the free will is the source of all the rational actions within the society. A truly autonomous will has never been subject to any specific interests, meaning that it is only subject to the specific laws that it makes for itself. People are supposed to act only by maxims in a bid to harmonize the society around them. Each human being has a duty to ensure that they do not act in such a way that will create incoherent or impossible states of natural affairs. Following the provisions given in the deontological theory, one cannot say that the current marriage provisions meet the requirements. However, the theory positively addresses the issue of marriage equality.


The libertarianism theory focusses on limited government intrusion and more freedom granted to people in the society. The theory underlines that human beings have a right to make their choice with whom to interact or whom to marry and the local authorities have no power to dictate the specific decisions of the people. The theory holds that the basic moral concepts of human beings and the rights to be respected are non-interference rights. These rights culminate the rights to life, liberty, or property. The only limitation provided under this theory is that an individual should not infringe on other people’s rights. Libertarianism depicts that justifiable legal rights of the individuals and the government duties derive basic non-interference rights of the citizens. Thus, the role of the government, in this case, is to protect the non-interference rights fostered. It shows that the role of the government is to construe protection to the people of the same gender, categorized as citizens in the society.

Same-sex couples have been categorized as the minority protected by the same laws that protect other minorities or oppressed individuals in the society. It means that any laws that ensure the protection of the oppressed and segregated individuals are also put in line to address the transgender and gay individuals. Looking at the marriage equality, it is evident that the theory of libertarianism plays a key role in bridging the gap between what is right and wrong in the society. Since the theory emphasizes the role of the government to protect and give freedom to transgender people and gays, it shows that marriage equality is also well addressed.

Theories of Justice: John Rawls

In his theory, Rawls tries to put an emphasis on what is just and unjust in the society by forfeiting the traditional approach to justice. One of the key aspects that arise from this theory is the need for humans to choose the kind of the community they would like to belong to in a rational way. There are two main principles addressed in this theory. First, Rawls analyzes the fact that each person should have equal rights to the most extensive liberties, which are consistent with those of other people enjoying the same liberties. Second, the inequalities that arise in the society ought to be arranged in such a way that they should be to each and everyone’s advantage. Rawls also talks about the need to equal liberty, obligations, and economic distribution in the society.

Looking at the John Rawls’ theory of justice, it is crucial to underline that the societies ought to allow marriage equality simply because same-sex people are the society members just like any other individuals. Same-sex couples should have the capacities for a sense of justice, the ability to become cooperating society members, and the capacity to form a personal conception of the good. Besides, the first position gays and lesbians will be spoken to in light of the fact that choosers do not have any idea about their sexual introduction on the grounds that it is one of the individual attributes that are withheld behind the cloak. Since the choosers do not have the idea about their sexual introduction, they will not be able to utilize that information in their development of what considers a simply state involved free and equivalent subject. The family and the foundation of marriage act as an essential sign of the family. It is one of the real social organizations of the fundamental structure; therefore, confinements must be painstakingly scrutinized. Generally, the theory supports the provisions of marriage equality in the society, considering the fact that it does not infringe on the rights of other members.


In the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle depicts that people generally agree that goodness leads to happiness; however, it is surprising to note that they have different views on what good is. According to Aristotle, happiness is a fundamental aspect of a human life that ought not to be denied to any person as long as it stays within the premise of the law. In his book, Aristotle says, “the good is the final end and happiness is this…”. He goes further with illuminating that wealth is not the end goal of any individual’s life because most people tend to associate their happiness with pleasure. Thus, if a same-sex marriage leads to pleasure, then happiness is attained from it. Aristotle believes that people seek happiness not for the sake of angering other people but for their personal fulfillment. Therefore, same-sex couples never conspire to anger other society members but they pursue their agendas for personal fulfillment. A person is a naturally social being, thus people often create communities and relationships between one another based on natural instincts. Aristotle never depicts that there is a boundary in the social life of people. Nothing is unnatural for the same-sex relationships to thrive in the society because just like the traditional marriage, gay marriage fosters coexistence.

An analysis of marriage equality following the provisions of Aristotle depicts that the same-sex marriage increases happiness and allows the fulfillment of the functions of a person as a human being in the society. Aristotle’s work asserts that decisions ought to lead to the provision of happiness in the end. An individual has the responsibility of naturally choosing to be social and enter a relationship. Thus, the most desirable thing in the world is happiness, pleasure, and good in the society, but not wealth. Based on the provisions of the theory postulated by Aristotle, marriage equality is a positive venture for those who may pursue this road as long as it fulfills their needs and brings happiness in the end.


The best approach to solve the dilemma is to adhere to the provisions of the theories stipulated above. The main focus will be given to the end result which is the achievement of happiness in the society. Thus, a marriage equality dilemma will be solved by considering the possible impact such a relationship to the society and the partners themselves. If marriage equality brings happiness to the partners and does not inhibit the freedom or rights of other society members then thee relationship is termed as a success and ought to be allowed.  Marriage is one of the areas in the society that allows people to love and cherish one another. It means that properly treated marriage will definitely lead to happiness in the society. However, it is impossible to attain these levels of happiness if some people are curtailed owing to their choices. Freedom of choice is a fundamental aspect that ought to be embraced in any marriage institution simply because people would like to choose whom they love or with whom they will stay while sharing common beliefs. Considering different ethical frameworks discussed in the paper, it is imperative to note that a common line addressed by the theories is the means to an end and the end itself. It presupposes that critics of marriage equality ought to ask themselves what is the result of the same-sex marriage. Definitely, the result for marriage equality is happiness, which is one of the major virtues sought by the society, in general.

Additionally, people with virtue ought to promote love in all forms in the society across the world. There are no limitations on the loving scale that can be provided by the society at any point in time. Equality is another aspect that spurs the growth of same-sex marriages across the world. Just like any other society members, same-sex individuals ought to be treated with uttermost levels of respect and with the same magnitude in comparison to other people. The authorities’ role, in this case, is to protect the rights and freedoms of the people and not to violate them at any point. Thus, following the libertarianism theory, marriage equality is an important aspect since it recognizes the freedom of choice and association. It is the same provision stipulated by the utilitarianism and deontological theories that put an emphasis on the means to an end and the end itself.

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