Inequality & Family Issues

Inequality and family issues are typically the most emotionally contentious in politics. Because they delve so deeply into the personal realm, people have strong views about what the government should and shouldn’t do in this broad arena. From minimum wage, to religious liberties, to same-sex marriage, these issues have a very emotional impact on families on both sides.

The minimum wage is a hot topic these days. Proponents have recently made a push for a $15 minimum wage. Others have called for raising it to $10 or tying it to inflation. They believe that raising the minimum wage will help struggling families earn more and raise the quality of life. Opponents to the minimum wage have stated that it will raise the cost of goods and services while cutting the most vulnerable and low-skilled workers out of the workforce.

Religious liberties have been the topic a lot of state legislation lately. Indiana passed a religious liberty bill that protects business owners’ deeply held religious convictions. Other bills passed were North Carolina’s HB2 addressing transgender individuals and their choice of restroom in state facilities and public schools. The emotions have been strong on either sides.

Proponents of the Indiana bill believe it’s about protecting the 1st Amendment and not being forced to perform a service that goes against their deeply held religious beliefs. Opponents of the bill believe it is discrimination and look to the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the 14th Amendment to challenge their constitutionality. The North Carolina bill, HB2 states that while businesses can make their own decisions on bathroom policy, government buildings and public schools can only allow transgender individuals to use the bathroom of their gender identity if they have fully transitioned physically. Proponents believe that this policy will help protect women and children from predators and say that it has nothing to do with discrimination against transgender individuals. Opponents believe that the bill is discrimination and point to the 14th Amendment and equal treatment under the law. There was recently a fourth circuit court decision stating that a student in a public school who identified as male, but was born female, could use the mens restroom.

Same-sex marriage has seen a drastic reversal in public opinion just within the last ten years. In June 2016, the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage is legal and should be recognized in the United States. Proponents believe that the Supreme Court has settled the issue in Obergefell v. Hodges and that the 14th Amendment applies to same-sex marriage. Opponents to the Supreme Court ruling believe that since the marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, the 10th Amendment applies and that it should be left up to the states to decide.

 

Minimum Wage

Point

Proponents have recently made a push for a $15 minimum wage. Others have called for raising it to $10 or tying it to inflation. They believe that raising the minimum wage will help struggling families earn more and raise the quality of life. Proponents believe that not providing a minimum wage can let corporations funnel that extra money to their upper level employees, leaving low-skilled workers out in the cold.

Counter

Opponents to the minimum wage have stated that it will raise the cost of goods and services while cutting the most vulnerable and low-skilled workers out of the workforce. They believe that the minimum wage can leave new workers, such as high school students out of the workforce as they try to save for a car or college.

Religious Liberties

Point

Proponents of religious liberties bills believe that states and the federal government need to recognize deeply held religious beliefs. Indiana's Governor, Mike Pence stated that his bill supports the freedom of all religions to deny service over beliefs. Pence reiterates that he does not believe the bill legalizes discrimination and if it did, he would not have signed it. Supporters of HB2 in North Carolina believe that the law is for the safety of women and children from predators.

Counter

Opponents of religious liberties bills believe that there has been an assault of equality and civil rights. They believe that a lot of these bills have violated the 14th Amendment and that individuals are not being treated equally under the law. Opponents point to the recent fourth circuit court decision as proof that public entities must provide equal access to their facilities.

Same-Sex Marriage

Point

Proponents believe that the Supreme Court has settled the issue in Obergefell v. Hodges and that the 14th Amendment applies to same-sex marriage. In Justice Anthony Kennedy's majority opinion, he stated that “Especially against a long history of disapproval of their relationships, this denial to same-sex couples of the right to marry works a grave and continuing harm. The imposition of this disability on gays and lesbians serves to disrespect and subordinate them. And the Equal Protection Clause, like the Due Process Clause, prohibits this unjustified infringement of the fundamental right to marry.”

Counter

Opponents to the Supreme Court ruling believe that since the marriage is not mentioned in the Constitution, the 10th Amendment applies and that it should be left up to the states to decide or that the government should not be involved period. In his dissent, Justice Clarence Thomas stated, “In our society, marriage is not simply a governmental institution; it is a religious institution as well. Today’s decision might change the former, but it cannot change the latter. It appears all but inevitable that the two will come into conflict, particularly as individuals and churches are confronted with demands to participate in and endorse civil marriages between same-sex couples. The majority appears unmoved by that inevitability.”