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Gay rights as viewed by the utilitarianism theory

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John Stuart Mill once wrote, "I apprehend, the sole evidence it is possible to produce that anything is desirable, is that people actually desire it" (42). Every person has their own view of happiness, and according to Mill's theory of utilitarianism, the greatest good comes from that which makes the greatest number happy, a mass majority, so to speak. Utilitarianism says, in the Greatest Happiness Principle, that an action's goodness consists in its increasing the total quality of pleasure in the world, from now until the end of time, and its badness in its decreasing the total quality of pleasure in the world from now to the end of time. Therefore, the more an action increases the total quality of pleasure in the world, the better it is, and the more it decreases the total quantity of pleasure in the world, the worse it is. We live in a society where we believe in every person's right to be happy, to freedom of speech, religion and expression. To that end, should the laws of utilitarianism apply to our society, and to each and every individual?

[...] According to the theory of utilitarianism, there are internal and external sanctions, which are enough for any legal debate. Because the external sanctions are based on the outside of the individual's point of view, such as peer pressure or disapproval, each and every individual must decide if what they want, if what they find pleasing is worth the trouble. What are harder for most to handle are the internal sanctions, such as one's conscience. These feelings are difficult to quell, and are enough to create significant discomfort. [...]

[...] This is clearly seen when Mill states the impugners of the utilitarian morality represented it to their own minds in this its true character, I know not what recommendation possessed by any other morality they could possibly affirm to be wanting to it; what more beautiful or more exalted developments of human nature any other ethical system can be supposed to foster, or what springs of action, not accessible to the utilitarian, such systems rely on for giving effect to their mandates? (41). Although the question is one of legality, it is imperative to understand that utilitarianism is based on the idea of the greater good. As stated by Mills, ?happiness is a good; that each person's happiness is a good to that person, and the general happiness, therefore, a good to the aggregate of all persons? (42). [...]

[...] However, if we lived in a society where each individual's rights were upheld and unquestioned, gay marriage would not be based on what the majority of the country believed. In fact, interestingly enough, women and minorities obtained the right to vote without the support of the majority of the country. Consequently, Mill's idea of utilitarianism is one where happiness is not merely a single, one thing. Happiness can exist and consist of other experiences that are of great value to certain individuals. [...]

[...] According to Mill, if the idea of homosexuality were not pleasing, and if it did not hold some sort of benefit to the individual, then they would not actively live such a lifestyle. Since they do, who is to say that the person that a man or a woman chooses to be with is not legally entitled to share a matrimonial tie with the said individual? Furthermore, Mill also believed that not all pleasure was of equal value. Quantity and quality should be taken into consideration. Each level of pleasure must be evaluated reasonably, with the greater good of humanity and society being taken into account. [...]

[...] In addition, individuals of the homosexual orientation are also well aware of the situation that they are in. They know how religion views the union and that there are many who will not accept or acknowledge their life choices. Thus, even with backlash that they face from certain institutions, and even in some cases from their own families, homosexual individuals do not shrink from obtaining what makes them happy. By achieving their pleasure, and being comfortable in their decisions, individuals of the homosexual orientation allow themselves to truly express and achieve Mill's idea of the hedonistic principle that happiness is pleasure. [...]

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