Ethics of Same Sex Marriage sample essay
Society has many views on same sex relationships and marriages, people are either for it or against it. In this paper, we will first look at same sex marriage in America and how homosexuals and heterosexuals feel about the issue. We will look into the ethical issue that same sex marriage presents. We will look at how the classical theory of how deontology would resolve the issue of same sex marriage. Next, we will contrast deontology with the perspective of relativism. Finally, we will see which of these views on same sex marriage is closest to my own personal views.
The ethical reason behind why people in society believe that same sex marriage is wrong is simply due to discrimination. Society does not have a valid reason why same sex marriage should not be allowed; it is just simply based on one’s own biased reasoning for not allowing it. Same sex marriage is something that people have been fighting for rights for many decades. Andrew Koppelman (2004), celebrated journalist and author, states that “Most Americans agree with the first sentence of the proposed amendment: “Marriage in the United States shall consist only of the union of a man and a woman.
The main question this raises is whether this rule is important enough to enshrine in the Constitution” (p. 4). Many Americans can agree that the first sentence of the amendment is broad and that it invalidates domestic partnership laws that allow same sex couples the rights of marriage without the name (Koppelman, 2004). Marriage is not just a word but rather an institution, which the amendment makes impossible for same sex marriage to have the rights to that institution.
In 1996, the defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prevented the federal government from recognizing same sex marriages and allows individual states to have the power to define their own family laws. This allows each individual state to choose whether to ignore the first sentence of the amendment or agree with the first sentence of the amendment when deciding whether or not make same sex marriage legal in one’s own state. With this being said, a governor can choose to allow same sex marriage in the state they govern; however, when that governor’s time has lapsed and another person takes over, that person can decide to remove same sex marriage.
All of same sex couples that were married in that state are now no longer considered married in the eyes of the law anymore. Also if a same sex couple gets married in their current state that they reside in where same sex marriage is considered legal; then the couple decide to move to another state that does not allow same sex marriage, they are then not considered married in the eyes of the law in the current state that they are now living in (Koppelman, 2004).
In The Limits to Union: Same-Sex Marriage and the Politics of Civil Rights, Jonathan Goldberg-Hiller (2002) writes that gay rights activists have been fighting for same sex marriage rights since 1970. In 1990, one gay couple and two lesbian couples applied for a marriage licenses in Hawaii at the department of health, several people in the states made efforts to challenge the marriage laws and were denied. In 1991, the three couples hired a local civil rights attorney proceeded to sue the state circuit court for violations of their rights of privacy and equal protection.
The judge ruled that the same sex couples did not enjoy the right to marry, which followed with the couples filing for an appeal in 1993 with the state supreme court. The state supreme court made the first national ruling that rejecting same sex marriage applications was unconstitutional gender discrimination, but didn’t show a state interest. The state at the time felt that not allowing same sex marriages did not uphold moral values and protect children and filed for a motion to reconsider; however, it was rejected in the Supreme Court (Goldberg-Hiller, 2002).
Like Hawaii, many same sex couples have fought their state circuit court all the way up to their supreme court and have been fighting for many years to legalize marriage in their state and have been unsuccessful. In 2004, Connecticut, Iowa, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, New York, the District of Columbia and two Native American tribal jurisdictions have legalized same sex marriages. As the years go on, more and more same sex couples will continue to fight for their right to marry who they choose and more states will eventually allow same sex couples their rights to marry whomever they choose (Koppelman, 2004).
Those that are oppose same sex marriage focus their reasoning on religious beliefs. Same sex couples do not want to be treated as second class citizens, they do not focus on what religion states; they just want to be treated as equal as heterosexuals when it comes to their right. Same sex couples believe if one is to bar any class of people from marrying whomever they choose, it then deprives them of their social institution; that many feel defines the most meaningful part of life, to marry someone one loves. Same sex couples believe that their relationships are no different than that of a heterosexual marriage.
Same sex couples can have maintain a home together, provide an environment that children can thrive in and care for each other the same as heterosexual married couples do (Goldberg-Hiller, 2002). In Attributions and the Regulation of Marriage: Considering the Parallels between Race and Homosexuality, Mark Joslyn and Donald Haider-Markel (2005) writes that for many people, these days, the issue of same sex marriage is an ethical controversy. Same sex relationships have been considered taboo and an ethical issue in many places throughout the United States.
Many people oppose same sex marriage and the rights of homosexuals. The future for same sex marriage and civil unions appears to be very bright for legal recognition. Lesbians and gays had major setbacks in 2004 election, however, many feel that was just a speed bump. In Ethics and Social Responsibility, Kurt Mosser (2010) explains that ethics are the concern of what is morally right or wrong to an individual. Ethics is the study of what I ought to do or what should other people do. The philosophy known as ethics forces individuals to consider whether the things we do are right or wrong, good or bad, immoral or moral.
Ethical issues have relationships even with religious traditions and legal political doctrines (p. 2). In Marriage, Autonomy, and the Feminine Protest, Debra Bergoffen (1999) explains that the ethical issues and the ethical problems same sex marriage presents is that society feels that if they make same sex marriage legal, the same sex couple would then destroy the meaning of marriage. To society, that meaning of marriage is procreation and the education of children. Procreation is not possible with the same sex, for it takes a man and a woman to make a child.
Marriage is considered the ethical site of a couple and a decision people make to maintain a particular way of being. So, society feels that since same sex partners cannot procreate and have children that they should not be able to marry. Some men and women cannot conceive a child and procreate due to medical problems from either the man or woman. Many heterosexual partners, with the help of technology these days, use ways of fertility such as artificial insemination, egg donations, surrogate mothers and adoptions. So procreation is not always feasible with heterosexuals.
So the statement of that marriage should be only among man and woman for the sake of procreation is actually unjust. A lesbian couple can then have a child with the help of sperm donation and a gay couple can have a child with the help of surrogacy or adoptions (Joslyn & Haider-Markel, 2005). If heterosexuals have the same issue as homosexuals, in regards to procreation, then one can say ethically it is fair to allow same sex partners to then marry To society, these days it is not uncommon to walk down the street and see a man and man, or woman and woman holding hands and it is considered normal to many Americans.
However, to the older generations, they feel that a man and man, or woman and woman should not be together, even though it is a part of society these days; they have a hard time agreeing and understanding same sex relationships. The ethical values of someone from the sixties are going to be different from someone who was brought up in this day and age (Bergoffen, 1999). Ethics allows one to determine what is right and wrong, however, what we consider right or wrong is based on our upbringing and surrounding culture with other theories like deontology, we can see how these ways of life can be incorporated into society.
The classical theories of deontology would resolve the problem of same sex marriage. Deontology looks at the reason and rule for why an act was done, instead of the consequences from the act. Deontology focuses on what we are obliged to do as moral human beings. Deontology realizes that all actions have consequences; however, those consequences whether or not actions are ethical should not be determined by the actions consequences.
Deontologists feel that people have an obligation or duty to treat other human beings with respect, dignity and take their dignity into consideration when one has to deal with another person, as we expect them to do when someone has to deal with us. One cannot use another person nor can another person use them to get what one wants (Mosser, 2010). Deontological theory of how one should be treated allows same sex couples to be treated as just and fair as heterosexuals are treated. With deontology, people have the right to be who they are and is not fair to outcast others for any reason (Mosser, 2010).
With this way of thinking, society should legalize same sex marriages and then all will be treated fairly and justly. When one says that a person cannot marry someone because they are marrying someone of the same sex, as oppose to opposite sex, is not treating someone with respect and dignity. Treating a person this way is instead out casting them as different and who are we to make that judgment in society? Deontology would fix this way of thinking in society, for people would treat same sex couples the same as heterosexual couples, thus allowing people to love and marry who they choose, not who society says they should marry.
When one contrasts the theory of deontology with the perspective of relativism, one looks at two views that kind of work together. Where deontology focuses on what we are obliged to do as moral human beings, where relativism focuses on an individual’s moral claims that are either right in a culture or wrong for society. Relativism is where an individual’s values and beliefs are simply understood in one’s own culture, society or one’s own personal values. With relativism, one may find oneself debating with another person over what sport is considered the best sport.
One person may believe that their viewpoint is more superior than the others view point of the issue. It is simply just that one person was raised with different views than the other. Deontology would then come in and would condemn some actions, if those actions violate the fundamental rule of treating others fairly and justly; thus allowing individuals to have their own beliefs or views (Mosser, 2010). To look at relativism and deontology together in regards to same sex marriages would help societies with dealing with same sex marriage.
If society looked at the issue through the view of deontology, they would look at the situation in a moral way that every human being deserves to be treated fairly no matter the situation. Society with the perspective of relativism would have one’s own views on the matter of same sex relationships and marriage based on ones upbringing and culture and would accept what the culture says is ethical. So, a society that outlaws same-sex marriage would be acceptable to a relativist. However, with deontology in mind, society would treat same sex partners the same as heterosexuals.
Even though each individual has one’s own views and beliefs on same sex marriage; with deontology one is not allowed to consider the consequences of same sex marriage, instead to simply treat others as human beings with the same respect and dignity that one would want done unto them (Mosser, 2010). My views on same sex marriage go along with deontology and relativism. I was raised in a family where we were taught certain ways of life but not to judge others for the way of life another may choose to live.
With relativism, one would look at every situation based on how ones culture and ociety around them brought them up. For me, same sex marriage is something I feel should be allowed. I grew up having many gay and lesbian friends and to me it is normal for someone to date someone of the same sex. I do also feel that just because it is something that another person feels is right does not mean I have to agree with it to make it happen. When another person marries the same sex, it is them that are in that relationship not anyone else, so why does it offend or hurt others to see someone happy?
Even if it is something a person is not comfortable with, who are they to judge? Would society be alright with someone telling them who they can or cannot marry? Some cultures marriage is pre-arranged; however, for many people in the United States heterosexuals are free to marry whomever they choose too. With deontology and relativism in mind, society can have their views on same sex marriage, but not let one’s own views cause them to treat others different than one would want to be treated.
In my freshman year in high school, I moved from California to Virginia where I was introduced to a whole new way of life compared to ways of life I knew in California. With relativism, I was used to certain ways of being that to me made Virginia a strange place to live in. It was in high school that I encountered my first homosexual person. At first, the whole way of thinking to me was wrong, immoral and not how the bible said relationships should be.
I now see that growing up, my mother thought in ways of deontology and would always explain to me, whenever I was confused, about ethical values and how whether we feel something is morally right or wrong it does not make others ways of life morally wrong. As the years past, I was one of the bridesmaid’s in a wedding of my two dear lesbian friends, held in Las Vegas. Even though their way of life was not the way I choose to live, it did not give me the right to judge them for who they loved and who they wanted to marry.
At their wedding, I could see that the two were happy and in love and a year later, with the sperm donations of our friend, the two had a beautiful baby girl. With relativism and ethical upbringing, ones views on who they marry is their own views; with deontology, one accepts everyone for their own views and upbringing even if they do not understand it but one does not judge it. In conclusion, we have seen now that the ethical reason behind why people in society believe that same sex marriage is wrong is simply due to discrimination.
We have, also, seen that society does base their belief of ame sex marriage on one’s own biased reasoning, not because it is harmful to society or anything that can be justified. It is simply a view of relativism, one’s own beliefs based on their society and upbringing. We have also seen that if society looked at same sex marriages with the views of deontology, society would be able to see things as they are and not discriminate and judge others for their beliefs and views. Society would treat everyone as they would want to be treated and same sex couples would be allowed to choose who they want to marry, just as heterosexual couples choose who they want to marry.
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