Civil libertarians are under attack again, this time for insisting upon equal protection of the laws. The accusation is that support for equal legal treatment of women and gay people, is "anti-family." Apparently, if one is for "traditional family values" one must therefore be against civil rights…
Civil libertarians are under attack again, this time for insisting upon equal protection of the laws. The accusation is that support for equal legal treatment of women and gay people, is "anti-family." Apparently, if one is for "traditional family values" one must therefore be against civil rights for homosexuals and laws which protect the rights of women who work outside the home. This is the same logic that – in a different context — holds that a belief in the importance of American cultural values precludes study of other cultures.
Let’s examine this argument. There is ample evidence of the desirability of children being raised in intact, monogamous homes. In our culture, for a number of reasons, this can be statistically demonstrated. Put another way, all things being equal, it is obviously preferable for children to be raised in emotionally healthy, socially supported family units.
But everything isn’t always equal. It is perfectly possible to agree with the above statement without suggesting that as a consequence, society should ostracize and legally disadvantage single mothers or working mothers or gay parents. There is plenty of statistical evidence to indicate that children raised in financially secure family units do better — but I hope few of us would suggest depriving the poor of basic civil liberties or their rights to parent their children.
If the issue is how we shall support all families without inadvertently undermining the family types which are believed to be most socially beneficial, the question is entirely legitimate. If however we decide that since Family Form A is preferable, we will punish and marginalize Family Form B (in some cases ignoring entirely the mandate of equal protection of the laws) that is a different matter entirely.
Government has an obligation to treat all citizens equally and without favoritism or bias Does that mean that all people are equally good, or equally talented, or equalIy productive? Of course not. It means that, in America we do not allow government to make those distinctions. So long as people obey the basic rules of civic society, government cannot discriminate among them.
Government must respect freedom of religion for all citizens — even those who practice strange or outlandish ones. Government must allow all citizens to vote, whether or no they are well-informed. Government must not interfere with our rights to express our opinions, no matter how disfavored or hateful those opinions may be. Government cannot allow groups of people to be deprived of rights accorded other citizens, based upon the prejudices of still other groups.
Agreement with this principal of governmental even-handedness is not contrary to "family values." It is a necessary condition to the creation of a society that values families.