On the issues of gay rights, abortion rights, or womens rights I think that Ron Paul captures the truth with his repeated assertion that there is only one kind of rights – individual rights. These are the rights that were called unalienable rights in the Declaration of Independence. When individual rights are properly protected many of the issues related to gay rights, womens rights, or minority rights fall away so that the central issues can be approached from their proper perspective.
For example, if individual rights are fairly enforced we do not need hate-crimes legislation because hate crimes are, first and foremost, crimes against individuals which should be dealt with in a manner to protect and defend the rights of those individuals. No amount of legislation will make a racist like a minority against which they hold a prejudice. If individual rights are properly enforced that will serve as a deterrent against racially inspired crimes as any hate-crimes law (this is not to imply that it will stop the crimes completely, but an admission that hate-crimes laws won’t either).
On issues such as abortion we can stop asking about whether a woman has “a right to control her own body” and focus the discussion on defining where individual rights begin – in other words, if the pre-born infant is an individual then the woman cannot blithely infringe upon the rights of that individual, but appropriate decisions can be made when the well-being of the mother and the well-being of the child are at odds.
The more I think about this the more I am convinced that it is difficult to help people understand individual rights when we have ceded responsibility to the government to ensure that nobody is hungry, sick, uneducated, or poor and we have allowed the government to own everything although it generously allows us to keep part of the money we earn through our economic contributions.