Same-sex marriage makes cents

Time Magazine featured a gay couple on their cover in March 2013 with the caption “Gay Marriage Already Won.” My question is, what did gay marriage win? Currently 17 states allow same-sex marriage (18 if you include Michigan), while 32 states have a ban on it. As evident, the number of states that have a ban on gay marriage largely outweighs those that don’t.

Katrina Klawes

Katerina Klawes

With Michigan the most recent state to attract national headlines on the matter, it makes me wonder what the effects are of allowing same-sex marriage and what does it hurt or help if gay marriage “wins?”An estimated 7,200 to 8,200 same-sex couples tied the knot within six months of New York legalizing gay marriage. Those marriages were said to have sparked more than $259 million in economic activity and $16 million taxes, all within six months, according to the Bureau of Statistics.

Bill Clinton signed the Defense of Marriage Act in 1996, in part due to the fact that supporters of the bill argued that federally legalizing gay marriages would cost taxpayers more money to provide benefits to same-sex couples. However, the numbers show that state and federal governments gain money by allowing same-sex marriage.The fee for marriage licenses in Michigan is currently $20 for residents. The average wedding cost was $25,631 in 2010. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are more than 600,000 unmarried same-sex couples in the United States today.

If Michigan has, for example, 2,000 same-sex couples that tie the knot, Michigan stands to gain $40,000 in marriage license fees, plus the $51.2 million, if you take into account the average amount spent on a wedding. This leaves Michigan to benefit from $51.3 million in economic activity.Money spent on the wedding is not the only economic benefit of same-sex marriage.

Unmarried couples are three times less likely to get approved when applying to adopt a child. The New York Times said “about 26.5 percent of same-sex couples raising children reported raising an adopted child in 2010.”

After New York legalized same-sex marriage, adoptions increased by more than seven percent. Michigan Department of Human Services estimates the amount of children in foster care is over 14,000. The average amount spent on a child in foster care in the United States was estimated to be “within $20,000 to $40,000,” according to the Federal Department of Human Resources.

If a state allows same-sex marriage, then the amount of children in foster care placement is likely to decrease due to the fact that same-sex marriages will be recognized, improving couples’ chances of adoption. Approximately 80 percent of adoptions that are approved by a state agency take place in a household where two individuals are married. The chances of same-sex couples having the opportunity to adopt is three times greater after the couple has been legally married.

If newly married same-sex couples adopt 10 percent of children currently in foster care, then Michigan stands to save taxpayers $28 million. The total that Michigan stands to gain this year is estimated to be $79.3 million through its decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Arguing whether gay marriage is “right” or not is pointless. I believe that people deserve equal rights on the principle of equality, but that is an argument history has shown to be difficult to win.

There is no way to argue morals, as morals are not concrete. I believe that the best way to end the debate is to showcase what could be gained: a whole lot of money.



One Comment

  • david
    April 3, 2014 | Permalink |

    Suggesting that same sex marriages should be legalized in order to reduce the number of children in foster care is an interesting twist. I’m hoping that you have done some research on more than just the economics that “might” benefit the states in writing your article.

    I have no idea of what the numbers are, but I know that a very large majority of couples seeking to adopt want newborn babies. I also know that a very large majority of children in foster care are over age of 5. It is true that couples, both opposite and same sex, want to adopt, they just don’t want to adopt older children that come with closets full of problems.

    Here is my question about marriages, whether “traditional” or same sex. Why does the government care? My personal opinion is that the governement at all levels should simply get out of the marriage business altogether.

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