Gay Marriage Makes Financial Sense
The U.S. should make gay marriage legal in every state to simplify tax, inheritance, and other legal matters for same-sex couples. Pro or con?
Pro: Same-Sex Marriage Deserves Federal Legalization
Most people in this country take for granted the financial safety net marriage creates for the couples who enter into it. Being denied marriage and its associated legal and financial protections affects same-sex couples and their families at every stage of life. It’s not only unfair; it’s not good business sense.
Corporate America is ahead of the federal government in recognizing the value of treating all families equally. More than half of Fortune 500 companies, in every industry and every region, provide health insurance and other benefits to same-sex partners of their employees. They know that this is good business—so why doesn’t the federal government?
Same-sex partners are taxed on employer-provided benefits, while their different-sex married counterparts are not. And the federal government, otherwise a standard-bearer in employee benefits, does not provide benefits to these families at all. This means it can’t compete with companies such as Raytheon (RTN), IBM (IBM), and Deloitte for the top talent, which means taxpayers lose out.
Several states recognize same-sex couples, including Massachusetts, which has full marriage rights. Nonetheless, because gay marriage isn’t recognized nationally, families in these states are forced to calculate their incomes separately for federal and state tax purposes, and file as individuals with the IRS. Gay couples pay equally into Social Security but are excluded from spousal and survivor benefits. These partners are also subject to state inheritance taxes, which have a lower threshold than the federal estate tax and can result in funds being transferred from investments to the government, homes being sold off, and leaving aging individuals with fewer resources of their own.
It’s time for the law to catch up with demographics—same-sex couples live in 99% of U.S. counties—and with good business practice. Every right, protection, and obligation of marriage should be open to same-sex couples. It’s not only the right thing to do, it’s the right way to do business.
Con: Preserve Marriage Rights for a Man and Woman
While some see same-sex couples as the “victims” of policies preserving marriage between a man and a woman, nothing could be further from the truth.
The Human Rights Campaign and other lesbian-gay-bisexual-transsexual (LGBT) groups constitute powerful political organizations. They are not politically disenfranchised or economically deprived. And homosexuality is not an immutable characteristic (tens of thousands of former homosexuals have left the lifestyle). This is why no state Supreme Court in America has found “sexual orientation” equal to the civil-rights and protected-class status of race, which is obviously unchangeable.
Similarly, no homosexuals are being told to go to the back of the bus or to use a different drinking fountain. They’re not being victimized. Rather, political LGBT activists are victimizing marriage and children. Boys and girls are best served by having a married father and mother under the same roof. Same-sex households confuse children about essential gender differences.
In all 50 states, any two persons—homosexual or heterosexual—can gain access to a panoply of contractual rights that serve their financial interests. Medical decisions, property ownership, wills and trusts, and much more are available. Americans, unmarried or not, can make private agreements using their full breadth of power-of-attorney privileges. Gay activists don’t need marriage rights to get what they clamor for.
The beautiful and special institution of marriage is only for a man and a woman. It’s self-evident, natural, and sexually and reproductively true. It follows that marriage rights and benefits bequeathed by states to bond husbands and wives together as one in the eyes of the law are also only for a man and a woman.
If marriage rights go to the unmarried, counterfeit marriages are created and real marriage is emptied of its exclusive value. Just as counterfeit $100 bills harm local economies, counterfeit marriages render natural marriage legally indistinct, confusing the next generation.
Inheritance, property, medical decisions, and even insurance issues, can be achieved through private arrangements between two persons or between employee and employer. But marriage rights—preserve them for husbands and wives.Opinions and conclusions expressed in the BusinessWeek.com Debate Room do not necessarily reflect the views of BusinessWeek, BusinessWeek.com, or The McGraw-Hill Companies.