If there’s a way to get conservatives to back LGBT rights, it’s not by convincing them our sexuality is not, in fact, a choice, nor will it be done by showing them videos about gender reassignment surgery. What every American understands, though, is cold hard cash. So maybe getting them to understand it is expensive as hell to be gay in this country will help the cause? Fine. Wishful thinking. But still, from Social Security and heathcare to paying taxes and child rearing, the queers are, quite literally, being “taxed” for their demographics.
Crunching the numbers, the New York Times finds that “in our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562.” Ouch. (Curiously, the Times doesn’t calculate the cost of heterosexual couples for comparison.)
Our goal was to create a hypothetical gay couple whose situation would be similar to a heterosexual couple’s. So we gave the couple two children and assumed that one partner would stay home for five years to take care of them. We also considered the taxes in the three states that have the highest estimated gay populations — New York, California and Florida. We gave our couple an income of $140,000, which is about the average income in those three states for unmarried same-sex partners who are college-educated, 30 to 40 years old and raising children under the age of 18.
Here is what we came up with. In our worst case, the couple’s lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs.
These numbers will vary, depending on a couple’s income and circumstance. Gay couples earning, say, $80,000, could have health insurance costs similar to our hypothetical higher-earning couple, but they might well owe more in income taxes than their heterosexual counterparts. For wealthy couples with a lot of assets, on the other hand, the cost of being gay could easily spiral into the millions.
And then there’s this:
Nearly all the extra costs that gay couples face would be erased if the federal government legalized same-sex marriage. One exception is the cost of having biological children, but we felt it was appropriate to include this given our goal of outlining every cost gay couples incur that heterosexual couples may not.
The Times goes into more detail in each financial area, like health care and estate taxes, but the evidence is clear: It costs a helluva lot to be gay in America. (Isn’t it time for a CNN special by that name?) Which might explain why so many of us do not, in fact, fit the stereotypical description as wealthy urbanites who spend lavishly on travel and luxury apparel.
But plenty of us do :)