We live in a society that does not simply legislate marital relationships but rewards them. Married couples in this country file taxes together, receive social security benefits, and can be insured together. The United States government should not be viewed as a ‘sex police,’ what the government is involved in is granting legal and financial recognition to marital relationships. The intent is not meant to create incentives for marriage but to financially assist married couples. The unintended result, though, is that one is rewarded for being married, a reward that gay couples would like to benefit from as well.
The opposite has happened in Australia where the tax code actually hurts married couples. I’m afraid I have no data other than reports of missionaries to that country who state that even couples in the church do not seek legal marriages because of the financial repercussions. Instead, they simply cohabitate. Was this the goal of the Australian government? Probably not. Was the United States trying to encourage marriage? I don’t think so, but in attempts to financially assist couples who got married they indirectly rewarded and incentivized marriage.
Consider that tax credit for children. Is this fair to those couples who do not have children? Probably not. However, childless couples do not have the financial expenditures that couples with children do. The government was not attempting to reward couples with children as much as to financially assist them.
This seems to be the issue at the heart of the gay marriage question. Should gay couples receive the same financial breaks and rewards as non-gay marriages. What Dan and Greg seem to be suggesting is that government institutions are rewarding marriages because marriages are good for society, but I’m not sure that this is the government’s way of thinking. I’m guessing that the government has simply made a tax decision unrelated to anything other than financial assistance.
The real political question is really whether or not gay couples need financial assistance and tax breaks like other married couples. Social security benefits support one person if a spouse dies so as to assist with the loss of child care, home care, etc., not loss of wages. A gay couple has no need of this support because they normally do not have children and the loss of one partner does not have a huge impact on the other financially. From a pure economic perspective, the issue of gay marriage should not really be one of reward, but of necessity. Do gay couples need assistance? I think not.
Our conversation has been focused upon the morality, social expediency, and such of marriage and gay marriage. Gay marriage has become a discussion of agendas. It seems that the real question for fiscal policy should be why gay couples need a financial benefit. You don’t here me demanding I should get social security?!