The language of right/wrong has been used for both ethics and morality and both enter into the realm of taboo concepts. Therefore, non-ethical conditions can be elevated to higher levels than they deserve, conflicting and perverting otherwise easy ethical dilemmas.
A good example of such confusion would be the ‘debate’ over gay marriage in the US and other regions around the globe. There is nothing unethical with gay marriage. Two gay people marrying does not cause harm to anyone. Not allowing two gay people to marry does cause them harm; it is a denial of a basic human right. This is unfair. Both are conditions of ethics. It is unethical for society to deny gays the opportunity of marriage; Period.
I recognize that the act of gay love may conflict with some religious and/or cultural concepts of purity/sanctity regarding human intimacy. If those who oppose gay marriage were honest with themselves, they would acknowledge their opposition is rooted in queasiness or possibly even disgust. Body piercing may make you queasy; seeing someone pop a squat and shit in the woods may disgust you; neither are unethical acts, in fact the latter is quite natural.
Marriage in the cultural sense is an acknowledgment of intimacy and a formal commitment to lifelong fidelity. Marriage in the legal sense is not concerned with intimacy; it is concerned with the contractual side of marriage. Two intimate people living with one another gain wealth, property, share leases, loans, etc – basically have shared finances and other shared obligations including children. If and when the intimacy ends and the partners want to separate; the marriage contract is used to allow the state to arbitrate the distribution of wealth and other related legal matters. Gay marriage is primarily a legal issue; the denial of gay marriage is an ethical issue. This ‘debate’ is easy to resolve and should not exist.
This debate does make me aware of just how poor our collective understanding of ethics are. The people who hold “Moral Authority” tend not to understand ethics very well. Understanding the difference between ethics and morality provides some insight into why there is such a disconnect.