Personal equality is subjective and ultimately illusory without an objective reference point that places intrinsic worth and objective value on people's lives. Historically and logically, this could only come from the perception of objective values that provide an objective moral basis for the equality of human beings. The idea that we OUGHT to preserve life, as opposed to not doing so, hinges ultimately on the objective values such as it is "good" to live and therefore "right" to preserve human life. I don't want to make this a religious discussion, but historically, the basic value system of Christianity is what ultimately provided the moral framework on which we base things such as women's rights and human rights and on this alone is what we base our idea of equality. Let's observe women's rights for example. In the pre-Christian world, patriarchal societies were the norm. Women had about as much rights as cattle. They were often considered property. But, upon the explosion of Christianity onto the scene, the way women were viewed was radically changed. Why? In Roman Judea, women were considered second class. There was no such thing as equality for women of their day. But, here comes this man named Jesus. Treating them as equals, which was considered an embarrassment. Naturally, this would cause his followers to start viewing women differently since they believed Jesus to be God in the flesh and therefore the ultimate anchor of their morality into reality, granting objectivity to their moral values. Simply put, men and women began to be seen as equal because all are equal before God(initially, the Judeo-Christian God). This is the basis for human rights. Which, in turn, is the basis for equality among people. Which is why our culturally Christian nation, USA, has laws and a governing system that places so much emphasis on equality and the sacred rights of the individual. Without an ultimate, personal reference point(God) there is no real basis whatsoever for objective values and morality and, in turn, equality becomes a figment of imagination.