On Liberty

Private Freedoms, Public Legislation: A Case for Same-Sex and Polygamous Marriages Using John Stuart Mill's On Liberty

The freedoms of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are the guiding moral principles of the U.S., as is the view that every man or woman is created equal. We may buttress these claims with John Stuart Mill's "harm principle" from On Liberty as a moral underpinning by recognizing that marriage is an essentially private institution (made public only through legality) that does not interfere with anyone's life external to the marriagein other words, the government has no right to legislate morality of a private and innocuous nature. With this in mind, to maintain the morality our country is founded on, and, consequently, the justice of its nuptial laws, we must legalize the marriage of both same-sex couples and polygamous unions.

In Smith and Stevens v. Greenville, the essential injustice is the basic denial of rights to humans on the basis of sexual orientation. As Barney Frank points out, homosexuals are tax-paying citizens entitled to standard civic benefits. We cannot overlook the economic injustice perpetrated by this bias. Heterosexual married couples receive tax breaks; homosexual couples do not. Homosexual couples end up literally paying for their sexual orientation (and, in a sense, compensating...

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