The irrelevance of equality before the law

Abstract

Political activists drive around with bumper stickers proclaiming their commitment to equality. Perhaps the bumper sticker loudly asserts “=!” Oppressed people lament their lack of equality. Political philosophers contemplate equality and try to formulate general principles about it. In recent days, some advocates of marriage rights for same-sex couples argued for their view by claiming it’s just a matter of equality. Indeed, one of their advocacy websites uses the name ‘Equality’.1 They want equal rights. Everyone seems to take it for granted that equality is important. This seems entirely wrong to me. It seems to me that equality is legally (and politically and socially and economically and morally) irrelevant.

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