This is certainly a new one.
Marriage is about the economy, stupid! More than 28 percent of households headed by single women and 13.8 percent of households headed by single men were poor in 2008, compared with just 5.5 percent of married-couple households, according to the University of Michigan’s National Poverty Center. Patrick Fagan of the Marriage and Religion Research Institute finds that married couples with children under 18 enjoy the highest median household income and family wealth, and that married men boast an earnings premium of between 10 and 30 percent over their unmarried counterparts.
Some of this economic effect reflects selectivity bias: higher earners make more desirable mates. But married households also benefit from efficiencies, the incentive to work harder and the economic contributions of stay-at-home moms.
Plus, government has a clear interest in preserving the salutary effects of matrimony on health and preventing the public-health nightmare associated with all forms of sex outside it: higher risk for STDs, deadly HIV, other infectious diseases, emotional illness and various kinds of cancer. Not to mention the pathologies linked to single parenthood: crime and juvenile delinquency, teenage pregnancies, dropouts, suicides, runaways, obesity, drug abuse, divorce and homelessness.
So if I were a policymaker, I would want to promote, not abandon, the one relationship proven to boost prosperity, improve health, and reduce these social ills — and avoid sanctioning, tacitly or otherwise, relationships that present clear hazards to health and well-being.
The “fiscal argument” for government-enforced opposite-sex marriage (as I mentioned in that article’s comment section) sounds almost as dumb as the religious argument.
If Protestants are statistically shown to spend more money than Catholics, does that mean that the government should promote Protestantism over Catholicism as a matter of “economic stimulus”?
Ironically, it so happens that homosexuals statistically earn more than their hetero counterparts, on average. And therefore, they’re in higher tax brackets. So by Maistros logic, the government should actually be promoting homosexuality, since more gays in the workforce would boost the economy.
Maistros also confuses correlation with causation. The mere fact that married men earn more than single men does not mean that the act of getting married produces a significant effect on earnings. A person who makes this argument could just as easily claim that killing all roosters will prevent the sun from coming up in the morning. It’s more likely that those who are willing to get married are already in a position to work harder to support their spouse, thus giving them the opportunity to earn more. (To his credit, Maistros does note this fact, even though it undermines his main contention)
If this is the case, government incentives aren’t likely to have any effect on such a person’s decision to marry (in addition, those who who would not marry unless the government provided an incentive to do so are probably not likely to be the most stable marriages anyway). So offering government incentives for marriage (exclusively heterosexual marriage, at that) cannot reasonably be expected to improve the economy and overall well-being of society.
The assertion that heterosexual marriage has been “proven” to create favorable outcomes is an outright falsehood. In fact, several long-term studies in the US and abroad show that children raised by two same-sex parents fared as good or even better than those raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet I don’t hear him citing this as reason for the public sector to promote homosexual marriage.
Furthermore, even granting Maistros’ severely flawed premises, if the government were REALLY interested in promoting lifestyles that don’t “present clear hazards to health and well-being,” it would outlaw cigarettes, alcohol, and red meat, and give tax breaks to thin people. But the government doesn’t do those things because (for the most part) we know that this isn’t the role of the government.
Public policy is not there to tell us how to make our choices. It is there to protect our rights, and proposing anything more should be met at the very least with careful scrutiny.
If you ask me, Jeff Miron totally nails this one.
I’ll say it as many times as I have to. There is no logical reason to oppose gay marriage, no matter how desperately conservatives would like there to be one. And the simplest and most cost-effective way to solve this problem is by getting the government out of the business of defining marriage, and have them stick to enforcing private contracts instead.