Would legalizing same-sex marriage save us money?

In a recent CATO podcast regarding marriage, Jason Kuznicki made the comment that a CBO study showed that legalizing same sex marriage would save the state lots of money. After some digging I found the CBO study Jason referred to. After examining it, however, I believe there are a few key flaws with the assertion that the legalization of same sex marriage would save the public money.

  1. As the report points out, the estimation of the homosexual population is problematic. It is actually uncertain how we could even get an accurate count of the numbers of homosexuals in the US today given the trouble inherent in defining homosexuality.
  2. Another issue related to the previous point is how we define monogamy. Believe it or not, these are two fluid terms in the homosexual community.
  3. The report assumes additional tax revenue will come from income tax returns, from couples filing jointly. This both exposes the much loathed marriage tax and it calls into question why a community of people who, themselves, denounce the institution of marriage would voluntarily submit themselves to such an additional tax. Hard data from countries where homosexuality is legal shows that they won’t. And why should they? The only gain homosexuals can get from the legalization of marriage, and this is from their own writings, is cultural acceptance. And that is through the enforcement of laws and new regulations.
  4. The analysis fails to take into account the added costs that would be involved with enforcement and proper regulation. In Canada, shortly after the legalization of same sex marriage, birth certificates were changed to “Parent A” and “Parent B” instead of “Mother” and “Father”. As trivial as this sounds, it does incur a cost. And these costs add up. So why aren’t they counted and factored in?
  5. The report does not take into account the fact that the legalization of same sex marriage has a profound impact on traditional marriage. That Jason doesn’t deal with this fact surprises me since libertarians are often known for closely scrutinizing the unintended consequences of policies.

The truth is that the legalization of same sex marriage carries with it a price tag that few are willing to acknowledge. That price tag includes social costs in terms of further weakening the already stumbling institution of marriage, the building block of society. Costs in terms of health care resources spent in an effort to alleviate the effects of promoting a lifestyle that runs afoul of our biological design. And a price tag in terms of decreased liberties and increased public scrutiny enacted in an effort to make same sex marriage publicly acceptable.

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