Behind the Veil of Ignorance: John Rawls Supports Same-Sex Marriages 

Recently, same-sex marriage has been legalized in the United States after many efforts but not around the world. Queer people have not humanized in many nations across the world, their right to love is stripped away. The debate about whether or not same-sex couples should marry relies heavily in people’s religious groups, cultures, and or “values” (inhumane values). Most people believe homosexuality is not ethical, it is monstrous and God made this world for Adams and Eves. I will yield to a Rawlsian perspective on same-sex marriage to prove that distributive justice for all is the essence of Rawls, therefore same-sex couples should have the right to marry. Queer people count as citizens because they have the the requirements for a sense of justice, of good, and the capability of being cooperative beings in society. Rawls theory of justice considering same sex marriage is fair to a just society since they are cooperating members of it.

Rawls’s view of equality is essential in understanding what is means for same-sex marriage through equal of opportunity. This principle means that positions and offices should be available to any person regardless of their ethnicity, sex etc. Rawls argues that a person should not only have the correct opportunities, but they should have an equal chance to any other natural ability that is similar. This can be applied to the opportunity of marriage. If heterosexual individuals can get married then it should be applied to same-sex couples that want to solidify their commitment to one another. This relates to justice since he believes the “worth of every person’s liberty [should] be equal.” Individuals should have the same opportunities as others especially if this specific group deals with inequalities in the country.

Queer people that cannot get married in their countries are not equal as other heteroseuxal citizens. Also it is important to understand that Rawls admits that a just society respects the freedom of a person to choose what their idea of a good life is. Justice comes into play with having a good life since people are independent and understand what they should value (ie. marriage).

Hypothetically, if a judge determines that a gay person has been at a disadvantage (which usually, they have been), then this judge with a Rawlsian perspective would make the attempt of ensuring their fundamental equality to other citizens. When there are inequalities Rawls believes they should be arranged to the benefit of the least advantaged (queer people). This goes hand in hand with the difference principle which is, “only those social and economic inequalities are permitted that work to the benefit of the least advantaged members of society” and goes hand in hand with liberalism.

Same-sex marriage actually benefits a society as a whole because of the rejection of gender roles (which is equality in the eyes of Rawls). For example, in a relationship between gay men, one will be doing house work while the other works outside the home. The role of housework is believed to be the role of a woman. The same can be applied when speaking about a lesbian couple that both work outside the home (traditionally a man’s role). Consequently, same- sex couples do not make assumptions on gender roles like heterosexual people do.

The idea of gender roles is discrimination based on sex which is a violation of the equality of opportunity. Restricting marriage to only heterosexuals violates the rule when marriage rights should be open to everyone and be fairly accessible. Along with gender roles come many disadvantages to the development of a potential child because it is a limited and conservative concept that does not benefit the child (especially since cisgendered men will have the most privilege in the relationship). Having less restrictions on gender and sexuality will make it easier for everyone to have a chance at equality.

Limiting the right to marry to certain individuals is in violation of Rawls veil of ignorance. The veil of ignorance is what prevents individuals from knowing anything about who they are, this created an unbiased opinion of yourself and others. One would have no advantages or disadvantages over anyone which allows people to choose the “original position of equality. Since no one would have a superior bargaining position, the principles we would agree to would be just.” Often times people will dispute that the freedom to marry is a matter of religious freedom, If this is true, then it is a freedom that should be treated similarly as religion.

According to his famous book A Theory of Justice, Rawls made the assertion that “we can suppose that the persons in the original position know that they have moral convictions although, as the veil of ignorance requires, they do not know what these convictions are… the principles of justice can adjudicate between opposing moralities just as they regulate the claims of rival religions.” This indicates people’s fundamental liberties like having the right to choose who to marry. Behind the veil of ignorance one would not know if they are queer or not they would just think about the concept of marriage and no one would give that privilege up. People have freedom in religion and it is believed that God does not accept people that are attracted to the same sex, but one could think of God’s law as a different (God’s law is objective of a person’s since there are many religions) one which aligns with everyone having the freedom to marry who they love.

It is often argued that, John Rawls political liberalism does not include same-sex marriages. Instead, it stems from a belief about what is good which violates the point of public reason. Moral equality is at stake since a nation can view gay people as the opposition which does not even integrate with the heterosexual society, therefore, they cannot be discussed in Rawls point of view. Most argue that gender roles are set in place to have a more coherent society. Specific roles uphold morality and make it equal for every man and woman to act accordingly. When discussing the veil of ignorance, many believe it doesn’t make people rational, it makes them structured to go against any and every norm. SOme topics do not need equality since it give people entitlement which rawls does not agree with.

Nethertheless, gay marriage is essential in providing equality for people in a society. Historically, gender inequality has been known to exist in heterosexual relationships. For example, specifically according to women, they might recognize their own oppression and will attempt to alter the norms in which marriage exists in. Breaking the norm is creating equality for the minority which Rawls is in favor of.

Thus, same-sex marriage and Rawls principles are in favor of people maximizing their happiness to create less inequalities in society. Does Rawls oppose same- sex marriage? He in fact does not. Civil marriage should benefit both parties, marriage is almost a contract between two people that love each other equally and the basis of their relationship is reciprocity. Everyone deserves the chance of reciprocity including people from the queer community. Civil marriage should not exclude the minority since the difference principle specifies that justice should be equally distributed as is liberty.


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  2. Card, Robert F. “Gender, Justice within the Family, and the Commitments of Rawlsian Liberalism.” Public Affairs Quarterly, vol. 15, no. 2, 2001. JSTOR, JSTOR, Web.
  3. Rawls, John, “A Theory of Justice.” A Theory of Justice, Universal Law Publishing Co Ltd, 2013. Print.
  4. Sandel, J. Michael,“The Case for Equality/ John Rawls.” Justice: What’s the Right Thing to Do?, by Farrar, Straus, and Giroux Publishing, 2009. Print.