The union between persons of the same gender is referred to as gay marriage. The term ‘marriage equality’ is frequently used by proponents of legal acceptance of homosexual marriage. Ethics is a science concerned with morality and human values. There are varieties of ethical theories that focus on distinct aspects of character. This study discusses the ethical challenges associated with gay marriage. In addition, utilitarianism and virtue ethics theories are discussed as possible solutions to this issue. According to utilitarianism, a person’s actions are morally acceptable if the effects of their actions generate more benefit than damage. Contrary to non-consequentiality theories like virtue ethics, utilitarianism is a consequentiality theory. People who oppose same-sex unions often cite religious reasons for their opposition, and discrimination is the root cause of some individuals’ social objections to gay marriages.
Minnesota law student Richard Baker and his lover, James McConnell, sought a marriage certificate a few months after the famous Stonewall Riots, which ignited the gay movement. A trial court affirmed Clerk Gerald Nelson’s judgment to deny their plea since they were a gay couple. In 1972, the Supreme Court refused to consider the case because it lacked a severe federal concern. While federal courts were virtually barred from making decisions on gay marriage for generations, state legislatures were left with little choice but to make progress toward legalizing homosexual marriage in their states. In 2015, the United States Supreme Court determined that all state restrictions on homosexual marriages were invalid (Ofosu et al., 2019). Consequently, similar to the US, several other nations, including Argentina, Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Portugal, South Africa, Spain, Sweden, and Mexico, have also recently legalized homosexual weddings. In many nations, the acceptance of homosexual marriage is a civil rights, moral, religious, societal, and political problem. There have been continuous debates about whether or not homosexual individuals should be permitted to marry one another.
When it comes to moral philosophy, the expression “virtue ethics” refers to ideas that emphasize character and benevolence rather than obligation or action to produce positive outcomes. One might expect this type of moral guidance from a virtue ethicist: “Accomplish what a virtuous individual would do in such a position.” Many virtue ethics systems draw from Aristotle’s definition of a virtuous person. It is essential to cultivate certain features so that once they are established, they will remain steady (Drašček et al., 2021). Some people are friendly because they are who they are, not because they wish to enhance utility, obtain favors, or fulfill their duty to be called virtuous persons. Virtue ethics theories are not primarily concerned with identifying universal principles used in every moral circumstance. In these discussions, broader issues such as how a person should live, what to do in life, and suitable family and social values also come up. According to virtue ethics, a person’s behavior should be based on their perception of a moral person.
A person’s moral integrity and attributes are more critical in virtue ethics than adherence to set rules. Every human, according to Aristotle, has a goal in mind, which indicates that existence is a teleological process. The purpose of human beings is to be happy or flourish at any cost (which Aristotle calls eudaimonia). According to Aristotle’s virtue ethics, people who identify as LGBTQ+ have the liberty to pursue their realistic goals. People who identify as homosexual are moral because they were born with unique characteristics (Drašček et al., 2021). Since the fundamental purpose of life is satisfaction, gay marriage is an ethical activity if it affords homosexuals a pleasant and fulfilling existence. It is ethical for homosexuals to seek love and marriage and embrace feelings and obligations. Some people attain eudaimonia through gay marriage, which enables society to have a rise in justice. Same-sex couples should enjoy the same legal rights as heterosexual equals to marry and live together. It is also possible that the acceptance of homosexual marriage by the government and the reverence of society will benefit both gay people and the community as a whole.
In utilitarianism, ethical values are determined by concentrating on the consequences of one’s actions; a type of consequentialism is involved. According to utilitarianism, the best decision would be the one that benefits the most people. Utilitarianism is a moral paradigm that can support military action or warfare. In the corporate world, the theory is the most popular method of moral reasoning since it considers both the costs and rewards (Ikegbu & Diana-Abasi, 2017). One of the drawbacks of utilitarianism is that humans cannot anticipate the future; thus, they cannot know if their choices will have positive or harmful repercussions. It is also tricky for utilitarianism to account for fairness and individual freedom principles. For instance, a clinic may have four patients whose lives rely on organ transplants such as a heart, lung, liver, and kidney. Taking all the organs from a healthy individual who stumbles into the hospital can help save four people at the cost of one. Most people would benefit from such a decision; thus, it would be a win-win occurrence. However, few people would agree that this would be the most ethical approach.
In the view of utilitarianism, homosexual marriage is permissible since it is designed to be a unique union based on the happiness and love of the partners. This does not take into account the genders of the two people involved. According to utilitarianism, a philosophy of ethics, the most beneficial actions should be pursued. Specifically, acts that enhance harmony, good health, and peace while minimizing stress should be undertaken. In the context of utilitarianism, gay marriage would only be wrong if it resulted in more damage than benefit (Ikegbu & Diana-Abasi, 2017). As a result, proponents of utilitarianism view homosexual marriage as acceptable as long as it does not negatively influence society. According to utilitarianism, people are morally upright when their acts help both their well-being and the welfare of society. Gay couples deserve happiness in marriage because utilitarianism values both the individual’s and the society’s well-being.
Virtues define moral behavior; hence, pleasure is a state characterized by a soul engaged in rational conduct. A virtuous life might enable people to obtain both guidance and genuine enjoyment. Gay marriage, according to the notion of virtue ethics, gives persons the freedom to achieve their natural desire of becoming married. Therefore, there is no reason to deny a person the opportunity to marry someone of whichever sex if it will make them have a fulfilling life (Drašček et al., 2021). Legalizing homosexual marriage will improve societal harmony, according to utilitarianism. When it comes to social and familial commitments, marriage is an essentially conservative institution, requiring more serious dedication from those already married than those who have not. Legalizing gay marriage would foster a higher degree of satisfaction from more partners. No one’s religious or moral beliefs are violated by allowing gay marriage as a civil right. Church and state should be kept separate so that all individuals can have the freedom and opportunity to pursue their convictions, even if those belief systems conflict with those of their adjacent cultures and societies.
Consistent with utilitarianism, a person’s actions are morally suitable if the effects of their actions produce more benefit than damage. People who fight same-sex unions often cite religious grounds for their opposition, and discrimination is the main cause of some individuals’ social objections to gay marriages. Gay marriage has been introduced differently in various jurisdictions. Modifications in marriage laws or legal challenges founded on the Constitution’s equal marriage guarantee, or any blend of the two, are to blame for this trend.
According to virtue ethics, people’s behavior should be rooted in their perception of a moral individual. Since the primary purpose of life is contentment, gay marriage is an ethical activity if it bestows homosexuals a pleasant and satisfying existence. It is right for homosexuals to seek love and matrimony and embrace feelings and responsibilities. Same-sex couples should have the same legal rights as heterosexual counterparts to marry and live together. In the view of utilitarianism, a gay union is permissible since it is intended to be a unique marriage based on the happiness and love of the partners. Although utilitarianism is often considered the most reason-based method for deciding between good and evil, it has significant drawbacks. There is nothing wrong with homosexual individuals thinking and performing uniquely from other individuals because everyone was born distinct.
Drašček, M., Rejc Buhovac, A., & Mesner Andolšek, D. (2021). Moral pragmatism as a bridge between duty, utility, and virtue in managers’ ethical decision-making. Journal of Business Ethics, 172(4), 803-819. Web.
Ikegbu, E. A., & Diana-Abasi, F. I. (2017). Utilitarianism as a veritable vehicle for the promotion of a just society. Lwati: A Journal of Contemporary Research, 14(2), 121-137.
Ofosu, E. K., Chambers, M. K., Chen, J. M., & Hehman, E. (2019). Same-sex marriage legalization associated with reduced implicit and explicit antigay bias. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 116(18), 8846-8851. Web.