Can we admit, as LGBT people, that this makes no sense?
In my opinion it is such a travesty that, a few months ago, Proposition 8, in California, passed. Proposition 2, in Florida, passed. What is that about, everybody? We are taking away a birthright, if you ask me, for people to get the most out of the money that they have spent their lives working. Those people are making money. They pay taxes on the money. Every single one of us deserves to have the same financial benefits whether we are gay or whether we are straight.
That's part of the Suze Orman commentary that's making its way around the LGBT blogosphere. So, um, how is a tax break a "birthright"? Why do married people deserve to pay fewer taxes than the rest of us? Why do married couples with children need a tax break to make ends meet while unmarried couples and single people with children don't?
Just a few of the obvious questions that spring out to me when reading what Orman had to say. I'll admit I have a natural aversion to people linking a tax cut with a "birthright" - it sounds far too much like the language used by the extreme right to try to get rid of the estate tax, a way of making another tax break for the extremely wealthy seem fair. Linking the two almost makes it seem as if a tax break for married couples is somehow just supposed to be a means of creating dynasties and keeping the wealth within a small sector of society....
I honestly don't think the LGBT community does well with trying to sell opening up marriage to same-sex couples by making it seem like we want a package of rights. Frankly, most straight people don't see marriage as a package of rights. They see it as a cultural institution. And we should be arguing it on that level as well instead of just or even mostly on the "fairness," "equality," and "rights" level.
Also too I don't think we do well to entrench the assumption that married people are somehow deserving of paying fewer taxes than everyone else, as if they're somehow better than the rest of us. They don't deserve a tax break for being married, whether they're a part of a same-sex couple or an opposite-sex couple. There are many things that should lower one's tax bill (spending habits, donations to charity, need), but one's sex life, no matter how exciting, and relationship status, no matter how boring, aren't among them.
It's something that even France's conservative president could see here in France (PACS are French civil unions, open to straight couples, gay couples, and non-sexual couples, like caregivers or roommates):
Perhaps more important as an indication of how French people live, the number of heterosexual men and women entering into a PACS agreement has grown from 42 percent of the total initially to 92 percent last year.
That was not what conservative opponents of the measure foresaw in 1999. They viewed it as an encouragement of homosexuality and organized rallies to denounce the Socialists for undermining morality in France. Christine Boutin, housing minister under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, was among the most vociferous critics and still complains that the PACS harms society by serving as a substitute for marriage.[...]
Nadine Morano, Sarkozy's minister of state for family affairs, recalled in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper recently that it was Sarkozy who, as finance minister, revised French tax laws to extend marriagelike deductions to PACSed couples.
Can you imagine national civil unions for both gay and straight people in the US with the same tax benefits as marriage? Some French moralizers think it's destroying the family out here, but in the US their screams would be deafening.
Here's the rest of Orman's commentary:
And therefore, we have got to do everything we can to turn that around. Every single one of us deserves to be loved. Every single one of us deserves to love. And every single one of us deserves to make the most of the money that we have. That's my Valentine's Day wish for every single one of us.
Thank you very much, Ms. Orman, but I can love and be loved just fine without a marriage. And every single one of us, married and unmarried, deserves to make the most of the money we have.
Oh, well. The assumptions (that marriage is something that everyone does, even if they don't, and that being married means children while not being married means no children, even though that equation no longer holds up for even a majority of Americans) aren't going to die without me.