RSS
The cost of being gay
Can we put a credible price tag on being in a same-sex relationship versus a heterosexual marriage?
How much does it cost to be gay in America?
How much does it cost to be gay in America?
Creative Commons
T

he debate over gay marriage has long “focused on God and Scripture, the Constitution, and equal protection,” said Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber in The New York Times. But there’s also a financial cost. Looking at factors such as health insurance, Social Security, taxes, and pensions, we calculated “a couple’s lifetime cost of being gay”—in the best case for our average gay couple, it cost $41,196; in the worst case, $467,562.

Finally, an analysis of the “financial discrimination” we gay couples face, said Andrew Sullivan in The Atlantic. This is not some “abstract issue,” and if the shoe were on the other foot, “no heterosexual would tolerate—or even imagining tolerating—it.” Besides, since the government’s anti-gay-marriage policies “encourage gay people not to form stable, lasting relationships,” they also have a big societal cost.

“I’ve always supported gay marriage myself,” said Wisconsin law professor Ann Althouse in her blog, but the Times’ analysis merits some skepticism. Their average couple earns $140,000 a year, and their analysis really applies to all unmarried couples, not just gay couples. Also, it oversells the financial benefits of marriage and neglects to mention “the risk of needing a divorce, and that can be tremendously expensive.”

The Times article also neglects “a much bigger issue”—the 43 percent of the adult population that’s single, said Bella DePaulo in Psychology Today. “Singles are shortchanged” in all the same ways that gay couples are, but they also subsidize the “perks” enjoyed by all couples, gay or straight: club memberships, vacation packages, car insurance, to name a few.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week