His protestations to the contrary, Michael Gerson has a strange notion of how to achieve a true respect for pluralism[“Obama’s culture war,” op-ed June 20]. We agree with Mr. Gerson that a political community may contain many people pursuing different ways of life, but we reject his assertion that government should not have to defend individuals from social oppression and discrimination.
Some recent federal policies go a long way in providing such protections. The requirement that health insurance must cover preventive health-care services, including contraception, without additional cost, makes care available for those who wish to use it but requires its use by no one.
Recognizing the option of marriage for same-sex couples requires no one who is opposed to such a marriage to be a party to one. And the government’s requirement that all recipients of taxpayer money play by the same rules when serving those in need doesn’t somehow advance a “liberal agenda”; it’s just democracy.
It is possible for many different communities to live together, and all members should expect that people will be treated fairly and have equal access to and respect for the rights our laws guarantee. Should Mr. Gerson stop stoking the fires of a supposed culture war, we might all come a bit closer to the pluralistic peace he claims to support.
Jon O’Brien, Washington
Nancy Kaufman, New York
Jon O’Brien is president of Catholics for Choice. Nancy Kaufman is chief executive of the National Council of Jewish Women. They are co-conveners of the Coalition for Liberty and Justice.