One of the newly-minted arguments against homosexual equality is that somehow it would cost society more. Michael Steele has bought into this argument.
The argument that any particular group deserves perpetual second-class citizenship because all the first-class citizens would find their equality expensive is also used as an argument for eugenics. Think about that, conservatives.
Luckily, writers for the New York Times have examined some scenarios comparing the costs of being a homosexual couple with the costs of being a heterosexual married couple. Bottom line: having to live without the rights of equality makes it expensive to be gay:
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.
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.
I had to read the last sentence above several times before I realized the writers mean that legalized same-sex marriage will not make it less costly for same-sex couples to have their own biological children, due to the fact that medical assistance for this purpose will cost the same whether or not the same-sex partners can be legally married.
Unsurprising revelation in the comments: straight people resent their marriages and children and do not celebrate them for the miracles that they are. WTF, straight people — WTF?
I am astonished, though, at how far above the median income the authors set the imaginary income of the same-sex and straight couples in their scenarios. What kind of money does the New York Times pay its writers that they think a combined income of $140,000 per year is ordinary? And I got the impression they thought that was thin gruel, too — just enough to keep body and soul together.
Update, 3/24/2010, Wed.: Yesterday Pres. Obama signed Obamacare into law. The New York Times has a piece today, “Gays May Still Pay More for Health Coverage,” as a follow-up to its 10/2/2009 story linked above, explaining how Obamacare will affect lesbian and gay couples financially. There’s bad news — straight couples get favorable tax treatment that gay couples do not:
As it stands, employer-provided health benefits offered to domestic partners are counted as taxable income if the partner is not considered a dependent (the amount of the tax is based on the value of the partner’s coverage paid by the employer). Coverage extended to opposite-sex spouses, however, is not subject to the additional tax.
However, there is a consolation prize — except for the fact that this sort of means-testing for benefits will provide a significant financial incentive for EVERYONE in the low- and middle-classes NOT to get married:
There is arguably a potential upside to not being married. Low to moderate income uninsured partners who are not covered by their own employer or their partner’s may be more likely to receive subsidies on premiums and cost-sharing expenses (which include out-of-pocket expenses like co-payments, coinsurance and deductibles).
After all, since they cannot file joint federal tax returns, their partner’s income would not increase their income to the point where they are no longer eligible. So as long as eligibility depends solely on federal tax returns, their income for subsidy qualification purposes will actually be lower than their true household income.