Ethical Theory and Moral Practice

, Volume 14, Issue 5, pp 589-595

First online:

Same-Sex Marriage and Equality

  • Reginald WilliamsAffiliated withDepartment of Philosophy, Bakersfield College Email author 

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Some argue that same-sex marriage is not an equal rights issue because, where same-sex marriage is illegal, heterosexuals and homosexuals have the exact same right to marry—i.e., the right to marry one adult of the opposite sex. I dispute this argument by pointing out that while societies that prohibit same-sex marriage equally permit individual heterosexuals and homosexuals to marry one adult of the opposite sex, same-sex couples in such societies are denied an important right that opposite-sex couples enjoy—i.e., the right to marry. I argue that the right to marry is fundamentally, not an individual right, but a couple’s collective right, analogous to assembly rights.


Same-sex marriage Equality Discrimination Individual rights Collective rights Marriage rights