May 24, 2004

Gay marriage and the coming singles backlash.

Gregg Easterbrook, in this TNR article, anticipates a backlash against gay marriage coming from single persons:
[F]or every gay or lesbian pair who weds, winning benefits, a couple of single people must be taxed more to fund these benefits. Benefits can't just be demanded; someone must provide them. Marriage benefits for gays and lesbians will not come from the pockets of those in traditional one-man-one-woman unions. The benefits will come from the pockets of the single....

A utilitarian might care more about the denial of privileges to the unmarried, than to gays who wish to wed, simply because the numbers in the former category are so much larger. At any rate, complaints from the single seem the next logical progression of this debate, and complaints from the single are going to be hard to rebut.

Easterbrook still supports gay marriage, he's just urging less reliance on the argument that gay persons deserve the various financial benefits available to married persons. But is he really right that singles will complain? He seems to think they are likely to make a lot of noise because they are such a huge group, but they haven't complained much so far about the benefits given to the married, and the sheer size of the group compared to the number of homosexuals who want to get married means that the cost of new benefits will be spread out so much that it won't be noticed. And even aside from that, why assume that the cost of the new benefits won't be offset by savings elsewhere? Even if gay married persons receive some new benefits, they may become happier, more stable, more productive citizens so that the net effect on the community is positive.

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Now it's singles? Every columnist mentions a different group that will be disadvantaged by gay marriage. I don't think any group will be disadvantaged by this, even though many may disagree with the practice. What I want to know is what's so great about marriage? What is it about that word? Oh, let's just write a contract with provisions for the children and where the money should go and be done with it (or is that a will?).

Anonymous said...

I wouldn't take these gay marriage posts too seriously. Just something to spice up her blog. For example, she seems to believe and here I'm paraphrasing, "Just because (most) straights don't want to extend the benefits they have enjoyed to gay people, we would never do anything to take away their rights." I don't think this is the reason a federal amendment to the Constitution won't pass. Because if you buy this line of reasoning, then the upcoming referendum in Wisconsin wouldn't pass either. (Here, the legislators have voted to amend the state constitution to one man-one woman definition of marriage. If it makes it through one more round of next year's legislative session, then the issue could go to a statewide referendum as early as next April. Wish I had the confidence of ALthouse that voters just want to maintain the status quo, don't want to deny and discriminate, and would never put anything in the constituion to deny one group of people a particular set of rights. Hopefully she's right, I'm wrong, and such a referendum fails. If not, her logic fails and the world is not such a beautiful place as she would believe. Then I hope she offers an apology for overstating the good intentions of those religious, moral folks and others who wear their goodness on their sleeves, instead of asking gay folks for the apology in doubting their intentions, as was written in a previous post. (And please, spare me the "be nice and win me over" argument.)

Ann Althouse said...

My references to the difficulty of amending the Constitution only apply to the U.S. Constituion. State constitutions are amended all the time. I'm only giving assurances about the U.S. Constitution.

Anonymous said...

Then your logic fails. If people are mean-spirited in their individual states, there must be another reason, other than love in their hearts, for failure to amend the U.S. Constitution. Perhaps garnering the numbers is just too difficult, not that people are really concerned about stigmatizing gays further. Yes, I know state constitutions are amended all the time. I may be dumb, but I ain't stupid

Ann Althouse said...

No, I've only ever said that people aren't inclined to go as far as would be necessary to do as much as needs to be done to amend the U.S. Constitution. They may very well do other lesser things.

Mary said...

I am pasting these three items from your May 16 post on Althouse:
My assertion was based on the extreme difficulty of amending the Constitution coupled with a belief that ordinary Americans will not like the idea of taking action against a group that has historically suffered discrimination.He (Bush) has some feeling for conservative Christians, but he did not show any interest in expressing hostility toward a discriminated-against group.

I hope people who believed gay marriage would work as a powerful wedge issue in the campaign will now acknowledge how wrong they were and take back any statements about how eager conservative Christians were to oppress gay people.