Same-Sex Marriages

Part 1: Ethical Question

Is it morally justified for legal marriage to be available to couples of the same sex?

Part 2: Introduction

The question of whether it is morally right for same-sex people to marry has always been a center of attention, arousing an ethical dilemma. Marriage is a universal union found in all societies. It varies depending on several components such as gender roles, traditions, religion, cultural factors, legal rulings, ideas about fairness, and human rights.  In the traditional sense, it is seen as the legal and socially accepted union between woman and man, two people coming together for moral, economic, and emotional support.  The understanding of what an institution of marriage is continues to be very argumentative.  Because of this, there are many types of marriages. However, there is no proper explanation of the kind of marriage that is acceptable over other types.


The first law allowing people of the same sex to marry was formulated in April 2001. The practice of same-sex marriage is not something new, as many individuals would like to believe.    John Boswell, a Yale Professor, and Historian provoked debate with his research, saying same-sex marriages during the Middle Ages were celebrated during the middle ages.  He also contended that same-sex marriages were well established in the medieval church. In 2015, the US Supreme Court case was known as Obergefell vs. Hodges granted couples of the same gender the freedom to legally marry one another throughout the country (Thames, 2018).  Morality occupies a critical position in the eyes of this county and other countries around the world.  Due to all the attention this topic continues to receive, controversy continues to increase as a result of the perspectives of individuals. 

As much as the issue of same-sex marriage poses an ethical dilemma, the ethical theory of deontology sheds light on whether same-sex marriages are proper. Deontology is a normative ethical theory that holds that an action is termed right or wrong depending on a series of rules. If an individual follows the set rules, then it is right, and if it does not, it is wrong. In this paper, I will show how a deontologist would argue that it is morally justifiable for homosexuals to be legally married.

Part 3: Explanation of the Ethical Theory

The normative theory of deontology is associated with philosopher Emmanuel Kant, who held that ethical actions follow universal and accepted rules and laws such as ‘do not lie’ or ‘do not cheat.’ Kant formulated the theory between 1724 and 1804, where he posited that the results of an action do not matter. The idea came from the urge for individuals to fulfill their duties, and through that, they will have done a moral or right action. The word ‘deon’ means duty. Therefore, fulfilling a duty meant doing the right thing, according to Kant.

The core principle of the theory requires one to follow the rules and perform their duty. Unlike other approaches like Consequentialism, deontology is not concerned with the results of an action. It stresses that one only needs to follow the set rules and have done the right thing (Deontology, 2021). The moral principle is that individuals have to follow the set rules for their actions to be deemed right or morally right. If, for instance, the law of society is one should not steal, and a thief does not follow the rule, then the thief is morally wrong. The critical part of the theory is to follow the rules.

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The theory applies to ethical questions by looking at whether action doers followed the rules or not. For instance, if a pregnant mother is in danger of losing her life if she gives birth to the child is torn between aborting and saving her life to take care of other children, the theory can be applied. When applying the approach, a deontologist would consider whether aborting is accepted in various aspects or not. For example, in society, lawfully or biblically. If the rule says that aborting is a crime and should be avoided, and the mother decides to abort the unborn baby, she would have done a morally wrong deed. On the contrary, if there is a rule that allows abortion, then it could be morally right. Hence, the theory applies to ethical questions by evaluating whether rules are followed or not.

Part 4: Application of the Ethical Theory

From a deontological perspective, legalization of same sex marriages would be based on the clear set rules. Therefore, a deontologist would argue that legal marriage should to be available to couples of the same sex would conclude because it is ethical to follow marriage rules. Deontology ethics has that following rules and laws justify that an action is morally right. According to Kant’s categorical imperative, a moral obligation does not incline a particular person’s inclination but binds in all circumstances (Kemp, 1958). In this case, there are no societal rules that same-sex marriages should be legal. However, some laws have been enacted to consider those people who feel they are homosexuals. As Thames (2018) writes, one of the laws was formulated in 2015, where the US Supreme Court granted homosexual couples the freedom to marry legally.  

Looking at this law from a deontological perspective, it is a categorical imperative law because the state did not consider the interests of straight people only but also incorporated homosexuals’. Hence, the law can be applied to anyone because it is universal. Going back to our ethical question, if same-sex couples follow the law that the government has enacted to hold a legal marriage, they are morally right. The central concern is that the couples must follow the set rules, whether by society or government, if they must be considered right. Based on the US Supreme court, it is legally right for homosexuals to perform a legal marriage. Hence, the law automatically leads to the answer that it is morally justified for legal marriage to be available to couples of the same sex. Therefore, same-sex couples have a duty of conducting legal marriages as long as they follow the set rules or laws regardless of the consequences of their action.


Deontology. (2021). Deontology – Ethics Unwrapped. Ethics Unwrapped. Retrieved 15 July 2021, from

Kemp, J. (1958). Kant’s Examples of the Categorical Imperative. The Philosophical Quarterly, 8(30), 63. Thames, B. (2018). How Should One Live? An Introduction to Ethics and Moral Re