I would have at one point been convinced that one of the core separations between Republicans and Democrats is their perception of equality.
In my view, Republicans seek equality under the law, and there are many examples of this in practice. A flat tax, often pressed by conservative pundits, treats all citizens equally in terms of responsibility to bear the burden of government programs. Affirmative action in schools and business are to be shunned, not because Republicans are against racial equality, but because they see that equality expressed in a meritocracy, where employers and schools will want the best students to attend their universities. They believe social programs like welfare must be shrunk to the minimum safety net, in part because it constructs a false class hierarchy of those who should provide for others, and those who should be provided to, rather than individualism that advocates equal opportunity, and equal consequences.
It seems to me that Democrats, on the other hand, seek a practical equality in the world. They see deck is stacked from birth. Income inequality is the great impediment to practical equality in our country, and social programs that seek to restore a balance in wealth for the poor should be paid for by the excess of the extraordinarily wealthy. They see affirmative action as necessary because institutional racism prevents practical equality.
This interpretation of views on equality doesn't quite fit into the context of the current debate over gay marriage. I wonder what the debate would look like if it did?