The same-sex marriage debate, in no short supply of moral, religious and principled arguments, has long been bereft of any empirical evidence. Last week, however, the Congressional Budget Office, at the request of Rep. Steve Chabot of Cincinnati, completed a report titled "The Potential Budgetary Impact of Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages."
According to the report, allowing same-sex marriages would create an annual net savings for the federal government of nearly $1 billion for the next 10 years. While such a seemingly large number constitutes a minuscule percentage of the total federal budget, the number is important for several reasons.
First, the finding should cause Chabot, and us, a brief pause. As chairman of the House subcommittee on the Constitution, Chabot plays an influential role in debate over the proposed constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman. Chabot is regularly heralded as one of the more fiscally responsible representatives in Congress; earlier this month he was named "Taxpayer Hero" by the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste.
While I do not wish to conflate the issue of fiscal responsibility and same-sex marriage (for surely public policy should be based on much more than a mere monetary consideration), it should be noted that not least among the reasons given in support of a marriage amendment is that recognition of same-sex marriages would impose substantial financial costs on society.
Before we allow additional laws or amendments to establish a more hostile environment for same-sex couples, should we not study and confirm the nature of the supposed harm of same-sex marriage? Arguments against same-sex marriage have included reasons of financial costs. Similarly, jeremiads that warn of the disintegration of marriage if same-sex couples wed need to subject their claims to the same rigor and study.
Principled or moral objections to same-sex marriage based on such laudable concerns as the social well-being ought first to examine the social well-being of states, such as Vermont and Massachusetts, that legally recognize same-sex unions. Opponents of same-sex marriage should demonstrate any deterioration to the well-being of those states before continuing to make arguments lacking substantial evidence.
Alex Frondorf, a resident of Westwood, will be attending St. Louis University School of Law this fall, and is concentrating his legal study in the area of same-sex marriage.
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