3. Same-Sex Marriage Must Be Federally Legalized

Author: Riley Billman, Sophomore

There are many tangible benefits of the legalization of same-sex marriage over the prohibition of it. Many arguments against the authorization of same-sex or gay marriage are supported by religious beliefs or personal preferences, but the effects of its legalization are far more beneficial to the United States as a whole. For instance, there are many monetary benefits from the legalization of same-sex marriage through the various federal benefits couples would receive to the upswing of the entire federal economy. Additionally, the lives of children would be greatly impacted, through lower bullying rates and children performing better in school, as well as the improved adoption capabilities for these couples. In order for the United States to reap such benefits, the federal government must legalize same-sex marriage.

The legalization of same-sex marriage would not only have a positive social effect, but also a positive economic effect for the gay newlyweds. There are 1,113 federal benefits that a married couple can apply for (Kubasek). However, even though two men or two women may be legally married in any of the fifteen states where same-sex marriage has been legalized, the couples are forbidden from receiving many federal benefits. These benefits include Social Security, where in the case of a spousal death, the living spouse is eligible to receive Social Security survivor checks. Additionally, the Child Tax Credit states that for eligible households, parents may receive a tax break for each child. However, this law does not include children of a domestic partner or an adopted child (“An Overview of Federal Rights”). The Human Rights Campaign further quantifies the monetary disparity between traditional marriages and same-sex marriages:

“Under Internal Revenue Code §121, a single taxpayer may exclude up to $250,000 of profit due to the sale of his or her personal principal residence from taxable income.   Married couples filing jointly may exclude up to $500,000 on the sale of their home.  Lesbian and gay couples, who are not permitted to marry or to file jointly, are therefore taxed on all gain above $250,000, creating a large tax penalty compared to similarly situated married couples” (“An Overview of Federal Rights”).

This disparity of monetary benefits between same-sex and heterosexual couples is too vast to ignore. The federal legalization of same-sex marriage would provide same-sex couples private monetary benefits, and would also improve the entire economy.

Many argue that the legalization of same-sex marriage would require more government spending and less revenue, but that is incorrect; the entire country’s economy would benefit from the federal legalization of same-sex marriage. The Huffington Post gauged the fiscal benefits to the United States economy, stating that if the U.S. legalized gay marriage, there would be $20 million more collected in taxes (Burman). Some may believe that this is an overestimate, but New York is proof of the increased revenue that legalized same-sex marriage brings to a state. The first year that New York City allowed same-sex marriage, the city reaped $259 million more in revenue because of marriage licenses and other wedding-related expenditures. The Post also cited that marriage is more likely to create financial stability between partners, and they are less likely to need government assistance, such as welfare (Berman). M.V. Lee Badgett, an economist and news writer for PBS, estimated that same-sex couples who have been waiting for years to be able to get married would have lavish weddings to memorialize their long-awaited celebration, and would spend at least $1.5 billion on cakes, hotels, photographers, and other expenses throughout the U.S., certainly improving the economy (Badgett). Additionally, domestic partners’ ability to marry would significantly decrease the government’s federal expenditure on welfare costs. Additionally, more than sixty major corporations, such as Nike and Apple, believe that the restrictions on domestic partners is a hindrance to these companies’ ability to recruit the best job candidates (Berman). Clearly, the legalization of same-sex marriage would improve the conditions of the economy and the job market. Not only would this better the circumstances of the economies that both traditional couples and domestic partners live in, but it would also improve the familial lives of these domestic partners, as well as the future for their children.

Through denying the privilege of marriage to the LGBT community, those associated with the community are discriminated against as a consequence of a society that positions them as inferior. These children of lesbian or gay parents, as well as the youths of the LGBT community, are forced to endure bullying by those who are taught that these lifestyles are subordinate to their own. The U.S. has already recognized that bullying children is a critical problem, and by recognizing that there is nothing wrong with the children who have parents of the same gender, there will be a large decrease in bullying. By federally disapproving of the “gay lifestyle” by banning gay marriage, the hate crimes toward the LGBT community will only continue, especially in schools, where students are too young to understand the consequences their actions have. There have been many incidents of hate crimes against youths who are either perceived as part of the LGBT community, appear that way, or have parents who are part of that community. For example, in a Texas school sex-education classes require asserting that homosexuality is "not an acceptable lifestyle and is a criminal offense" (Lussenhop). Bullying is so prevalent because the U.S. has perpetuated the ideas that being a part of the LGBT community is living a subordinate and criminal lifestyle. Unfortunately, one third of “gay kids” have skipped school within the past month out of fear of their classmates (Lussenhop). What’s worse: in 2009 approximately nine out of ten LGBT middle school and high school students “suffered physical or verbal harassment ... ranging from taunts to outright beatings” (McKinley). This is outrageous, because if there are hundreds of programs to alleviate straight students from bullying experiences, there should be a large movement to educate students about the equality between all, regardless of sexual orientation. If students understood that all are equal, the amount of bullying would greatly decrease, making a positive change in the lives of many children.

Another positive effect on children through legalized gay marriage is the lowered divorce rates. Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage back in 2004, and has steadily had fewer and fewer divorces annually. The divorce rate in Massachusetts declined 21% in four years; the state had the lowest divorce rate in the entire U.S. in 2008. Contrastingly, when Alaska banned gay marriage in 1998, the state’s divorce rate spiked 17.2%. Additionally, the seven states with the highest divorce rates between 2003 and 2008 all had constitutional bans on gay marriage (“Gay Marriage”). There is a clear correlation between divorce rates and legalized same-sex marriage. For further clarification, almost 50% of families move into poverty after a divorce due to the massive amounts of debt. Furthermore, children of divorced families are more prone to abuse, and are more likely to exhibit social, mental and health problems, such as drug abuse. These children are also more likely to perform poorly in the core elements of school, such as reading and math. According to the Heritage Foundation, the federal and state governments spend approximately “$150 billion per year to subsidize and sustain single-parent families” and many of these families have been victims of nasty and expensive divorces. Now, the ability for same-sex couples does not directly affect the specific relationships between heterosexual couples, but rather has an effect on the general social culture. In an environment where people do not feel “forced” to marry someone of the opposite sex, they do not subject themselves to a pseudo marriage. Additionally, with more marriages, the ratio of divorces : marriages would decrease. If the legalization of same-sex marriage can reduce the divorce rates within states as much as it has, and save as many families as it has, imagine how many families and children the national legalization of same-sex marriage could save.

Not only would many children born into families be saved if same-sex marriage were to be nationally legalized, but children in foster homes would also be liberated. There are more than 100,000 children awaiting adoption, and many of these children do not live in conditions nearly as acceptable as if they lived with adopted parents. Charles Anderson, Director of Professional Services for the New Mexico Christian Children's Home says that "Virtually every birth mother who comes to us with an adoption plan, the reason she's making a plan is because she wants her child to have a mother and a father" (Johnson). Many of the prospective couples are turned down for adoptions even if they pass background checks, home inspections, and other investigations. Unfortunately for children seeking a home, many lesbian or gay couples do not even reach adoption’s final stages, but are actually ignored and discriminated against throughout the process of adoption. Even before the process begins couples are discriminated against, as many couples will inquire about multiple children and adoption agencies will not reply about any of them. Many faith-based and non-denominational adoption agencies prevent children from becoming adopted because of their personal beliefs. William Blacquiere, the President and CEO of Bethany Christian Services, clearly demonstrates this discrimination.  “At Bethany, we would never deny a family for their secular status, or single-parent, or anything of that nature. However, if the family would be in conflict with our religious beliefs, we would assist them to go to another agency” (Graham). This discrimination is a rampant problem, even though there are always many children in need of homes. Emily Dievendorf with Equality Michigan, an adoption agency with many gay and lesbian clients, has a problem with this discrimination as it seriously affects the children of Michigan. “We are pretending that there is not a shortage of homes out there when we block off same-sex parents” she said. “When, in reality, we have over 5,000 kids in Michigan’s foster care system at any one time and we have around 3,000 kids that are eligible for adoption at any one time in Michigan” (Graham). Clearly, there are many children in need of a home, and many homes in need of children, but this prejudice against couples of the same gender prevents these children from finding homes. Additionally, this prejudice is entirely incorrect, as a Pediatrics study published in 2010 found that children with lesbian mothers typically ranked higher over children with heterosexual parents in both social and academic competence. Also, children of two fathers were described "as well-adjusted as those adopted by heterosexual parents" (“Gay Marriage”). Clearly, if children were to be adopted by parents of the same gender, they would be as likely to succeed, if not more so than those adopted by parents of different genders. While these couples may make great parents, many states still lack legislation that discourages adoption agencies “favoring” heterosexual couples over couples of the same sex. By legalizing same-sex marriage, this inequity would halt, and same-sex couples would be able to adopt children and relieve them of a life without parents, healing both the children and these parents.

There are many legitimate benefits that would come with the legalization of same-sex marriage throughout the United States. Both couples and the government would save money, as couples would receive benefits that are equitable with heterosexual couples, and the government would enjoy the revenue from wedding expenses and marriage licenses. Not only would couples themselves receive benefits, but their children would as well. If there was no longer a negative social stigma towards the children who either identify as part of or are associated with the LGBT community through their own or their parents’ identities, true or assumed, there would be significantly less bullying, and lives could be saved. This legislation would not only help the children born of their parents, but would also help children in foster care find a home. As long as many adoption agencies still have a bias towards couples of a man and a woman, there will be children awaiting a home, and parents awaiting a child to care for . In order to accurately boost the economy, as well as create a better environment for the children and youths of the United States, same-sex marriage must become federally legalized. Until then, strides will continually be made to achieve that goal, because the question is not “if” same-sex marriage will be legalized, but a question of “when.”

Works Cited

"An Overview of Federal Rights and Protections Granted to Married Couples." Human Rights
Campaign. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Badgett, M.V. Lee. "The Economic Benefits of Gay Marriage." PBS. PBS, 29 Mar. 2013. Web.
17 Nov. 2013.

Berman, Jillian. "8 Ways Legalizing Same Sex Marriage Is Good For The Economy."The
Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 15 May 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.

Fagan, Patrick F., and Robert Rector. "Effects of Divorce in America |Divorce Education." The
Heritage Foundation. N.p., 5 June 2000. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

"Gay Marriage ProCon.org." ProConorg Headlines. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013

Graham, Lester. "How Adoption Agencies Discriminate against Hopeful LGBT
Parents."Michigan Radio. N.p., 12 June 2013. Web. 18 Nov. 2013.

Johnson, Rachel S. "A Same-sex Couple's Struggle to Adopt." The Hub. N.p., 10 Sept. 2013.
Web. 17 Nov. 2013.

Kubasek, N., Glass, C., & Cook, K. (2011). AMENDING THE DEFENSE OF MARRIAGE
ACT: A NECESSARY STEP TOWARD GAINING FULL LEGAL RIGHTS FOR
SAME-SEX COUPLES. The American University Journal of Gender, Social Policy & the Law, 19(3), 959-986. Retrieved from
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Lussenhop, J., & Weinstein, E. (2012, May 30). Schools ignore gay bullying at their own peril.
The Village Voice. Retrieved from
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McKinley, Jesse. "Suicides Put Light on Pressures of Gay Teenagers." The New York Times. The
New York Times, 3 Oct. 2010. Web. 16 Nov. 2013.

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