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In this paper, I advocate the equal legal recognition of unconventional families on a liberal basis. For this purpose, I outline a functional definition of family as a multipurpose association (Struening 1999), I enumerate some of the most common and relevant purposes of family relationships, and I suggest that the function of care justifies a legitimate intervention of a liberal state in recognizing family relationships. Then I go on to argue that, if a liberal state recognizes family relationships through the law, a fundamental condition must be satisfied in order for its intervention to be legitimate. Namely, it must not violate the principle of equality between families. Consequently, it should provide equal legal treatment to family units sharing the same relevant functions and purposes, whatever their form is, and even to the ones that radically differ from the widespread idea of the traditional family.