What is the difference between "human rights" and "special rights"?

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shake99 eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Generally speaking, “special rights” refer to rights that are granted to one group of people but not to another. We are currently seeing quite a bit of controversy in this area in the United States with the issue of marriage. Should marriage be a “special right” that applies only to a man and a woman? Or should marriage be a right for everyone to practice however they see fit?

The term “human rights” typically refers to rights that we should all possess on the basis of our existence as human beings. We are human, so we have the right to pursue our goals in life free from the oppression of others. Some people see the idea of human rights as a God-given imperative, others as simply a moral outlook that defines appropriate behavior between people.

The primary difference between the two then, is that human rights are meant to apply to everyone, but special rights apply only to certain groups.