Dollars & Nonsense

In Calculating the Economics of Gay Marriage, Michael Steele Forgot About Gay People

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You don’t need a CPA to tell you get much the federal (and most states’) government is screwing you royally by refusing to recognize your same-sex union. Without the ability to declare your taxes with your partner, you’re losing an estimated $1,820 per year. It’s the Gay Tax, and it’s an easily ignored part of the whole marriage equation. But it shouldn’t be. Not with your 401(k) in the toilet, consumer confidence at an all time low, and your house being foreclosed upon. But, what’s this? Somebody is arguing that legalizing same-sex marriage would actually be economic drain?

Thanks to the Defense of Marriage Act, the federal government isn’t required to recognize any local or state mandate about the legality of your relationship. Which means you don’t get any of those protections and benefits straight folks do. Out goes shared health benefits; in comes double premiums. Our goes surviving pension plans; in comes extra financial burden. NPR points to one couple, Melba Abreu and Beatrice Hernandez, who’ve “been together for 32 years and have paid nearly $20,000 more in taxes since their 2004 marriage than if they had been able to file a joint federal return.” Incredible.

But then we have RNC chairman Michael Steele — who, we’re afraid, we listen to more than his own party — going after same-sex marriage not because of its morality, but because of finances. Well done, Steele! Everyone understands money! Or at least they think they do!

So what’s Steele’s argument? He’s ignoring the personal financial burden same-sex couples endure — even though Republicans are supposed to be about protecting personal wealth — and showing how legalizing same-sex marriage would damage small businesses.

How? By requiring them to, uh, pay for the health care benefits of our partners! Allow us to take leave when our partners are ill! You know, all of the things that we’re paying out of pocket because of the Gay Tax.

We don’t need to get into a debate about who should pay for health care (each citizen, employers, or the government), but if Steele and his cronies had a solution for actually keeping all of America health, this would be a non-issue, and he wouldn’t be able to make his argument. But they don’t have a solution. (And neither do the Dems, really.)

Despite his public gaffes, Steele isn’t so stupid that he’s unaware of how DOMA and unrecognized relationships hurt the average gay American. But he’s not concerned about the average gay American; his focus is on heterosexual conservatives who need another means to support hatred. And what better way than to wrap it in a nice stimulus package?