In current debates over civil rights issues such as abortion, gay marriage, animal rights, etc. the whole concept of what legal recognition implies and the underlying ramifications of such legal recognition is often swept under the proverbial rug. The various advocates clamor for tolerance, rights and personal choice, but often fail to mention the widespread effects that any change to the legal framework can have. They may not want the public to be aware of just what legal recognition affords. In summary legal recognition affords at least the following:
- legal protection of various assumed rights granted by the legal recognition
- prospective public funding and public education supporting such legal recognition
- legal status and recognition engendering new traditions and social acceptance of certain behaviors
- new protocol entailing new domestic and foreign policy at the various levels of government affected by the legal recognition.
Thus civil rights issues have inevitable consequences and costs to the public as well as to the individual that activists often fail to mention. For example, if Fido had been granted the same status of a U.S. citizen and had been dognapped and eaten by some hungry Chinese family while his owner visited the Beijing olympics, would this have been cause for international incident? It sounds ridiculous but is not too far-fetched if one assumes the legal ramifications. Likewise if a husband abandoned his wife for another man, are the courts to grant a new civil union of the former husband with his new gay lover the same rights to child custody as the traditional family union? If gay marriage is recognized wouldn’t it follow that tax money would go towards public education, teaching our children about the viability of alternative lifestyles? Would transgender operations come under the scope of federal public health funding much like planned parenthood and abortion clinics?
Clearly legal recognition affords much more than some civil rights advocates would like to admit. It requires much more scrutiny and jealous defense of the rights of citizens that could be affected by the legal ramifications of any such changes to the legal framework. Clearly it is not simply a matter of tolerance and understanding of others. It is a matter of maintaining the very integrity of the existing legal and moral framework under which we live.