Guest Blogger

Because Rick Santorum Said So

Filed By Guest Blogger | January 03, 2012 1:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: gay marriage, marriage, marriage equality, Rick Santorum, same-sex marriage, stopped clock

Editors' Note: Guest blogger Eric Resnick is a reporter for the Gay People's Chronicle - Ohio's LGBT santorum-caricature.jpgnewspaper of record.

Even a stopped clock is right a couple of brief moments each day. It is difficult to imagine, let alone find, someone outside the Republican presidential field who is more of a stopped clock than Rick Santorum. Coincidentally, he's likely to have a brief moment of fame and prominence following Tuesday's Iowa Republican caucuses, where he's expected to finish respectably.

For a while, Santorum will matter, and we owe it to ourselves to take advantage of him while he does.

Last Wednesday, the candidate known almost as much for declaring war on the poor, still defending the invasion of Iraq, and thinking intelligent design is science, as he is for the neologism he earned for his name in 2003, actually said something that was right.

Note: If you are not familiar with what "Santorum" now means, Google it. It's still fun to see that eight years later, the Santorum campaign has to buy Google ads to keep the earned meaning from the top spot on the page.

Santorum deserves credit for pointing out the connection between marriage and wealth.

Speaking on things individuals can do on behalf of their own economic success, Santorum advised, "Number one, graduate from high school. Number two, get married."

Santorum is a man full of internal contradictions. He's the son of an Italian immigrant whose family had little until he went to work for the Veterans' Administration and moved the family to government housing at the facility. Santorum, as a member of congress, worked hard to make sure others would not have the life of opportunity he did. Likely, the same psychological construct is behind Santorum's contempt for anyone who lives openly lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. He considers both reliance on government and homosexuality to be moral failings. Freud might offer insight here.

"If you do those two things," Santorum continued, "you will be successful economically. What does that mean to a society if everybody did that?"

Santorum's statements drew the obligatory observations about the twisted logic in his opposition to increasing the number of marriages and improving the economic success of more people by his rabid opposition to same-sex couples marrying. But the point that he's right about, the connection between economic success and marriage was widely missed and should not have been.

There are financial benefits to marriage, and opposite-sex couples should not be the only ones who get them.

Couples can always live cheaper than singles, but the financial benefits of marriage go well beyond the cost savings of mere cohabitation.

The federal tax structure, as well as that of most states, favors married couples. So does Social Security.

Yes, it's true that for some married couples who are both very high earners, there is a "marriage penalty," but it's small, and affects only a small set of married couples. For the overwhelming majority, filing as a married couple is highly beneficial.

Only married couples enjoy Social Security survivor benefits, or the benefits that divorced spouses are still entitled to. Annuities that you buy on the commercial market favor married couples in much the same way.

Married spouses do not pay estate tax or tax on gifts from their partner.

Don't Ask Don't Tell may be over, but only married spouses are eligible for veterans' benefits.

All types of insurance savings come with a marriage license. Health insurance is the big one because married couples need only one policy, saving thousands of dollars a year. But marriage also leads to lower auto insurance rates, lower home insurance rates, and savings on life insurance.

Marriage protects the financial equity of both parties when it's time to break up through the process of divorce.

Unmarried couples, especially LGBT ones, spend a staggering amount of money on legal fees to protect their children almost as well as married couples have the luxury of taking for granted.

Married spouses of crime victims are often eligible for benefits that even domestic partners are not.

At work, many married spouses qualify for additional benefits for bereavement or caring for a child. These types of benefits have enough value that in the case of progressive employers who afford them to unmarried partners, the IRS taxes them as income.

Plain and simple, property and benefits accumulate with marriage and it matters. Santorum deserves credit for bringing this to a presidential campaign.

Notably, so many of marriage's benefits matter most during times of crisis. Accidents and emergencies can drive households without them over the economic edge, or bust a nest egg. So it is no wonder that studies that adjust for other differences suggest that married couples and their families really are more economically secure and tend to have higher credit scores. Point to Santorum.

LGBT households are not better off financially than their married counterparts. Academic studies blew the myths of those wanting to market to the LGBT community a long time ago. And lesbian households are among the least economically secure because women in our culture earn less than men.

Armed with that truth, what conservative could argue with people taking action that is in their economic interest?

Why shoot this messenger? Let's use his moment in the sun to our advantage.

(imgsrc: DonkeyHotey)

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