Paul McKinley, the Republican candidate to replace Jesse Jackson Jr. as the U.S. Representative for the 2nd congressional district of Illinois, presents himself as a family man. “As your congressman, I will support the family institution in every way, at every level,” McKinley says.
The truth about McKinley’s family values is not so unequivocal, however. McKinley actually supports the family institution only in some ways, only at some levels. McKinley only supports those families that conform to his particular beliefs. He only proposes to represent the family values of Christian constituents, leaving everyone else out in the cold.
“I stand by my principles as a Christian man, and will govern to the best of my ability by those standards,” says McKinley, but where does that leave the rather sizeable minority of residents of the 2nd district of Illinois who are not Christian? Does Paul McKinley believe that non-Christians should submit to Christian religious codes on marriage, or does he simply expect non-Christians to abstain from forming families?
The truth is that Paul McKinley doesn’t even represent the family values of all Christians. Many Christian churches and individuals, for example, support abortion rights and legal equality for same-sex marriage. Paul McKinley refuses to acknowledge these versions of Christian family values, however, and has pledged opposition to them.
Once upon a time, Americans largely believed that there was only a single set of standards for what families ought to look like – a unified “family institution”. That’s not how Americans are living today, however. Our society incorporates diverse cultural perspectives, and it isn’t the legitimate role of anyone in Congress to try to give special preference to any one of those perspectives, especially not on the grounds of personal religious belief.