The Future of Gay Marriage -- and Marriage, too

Recently, Gov. Chris Christie vetoed New Jersey’s new same-sex marriage legislation. I approve of the veto, but I feel the Governor missed a chance to make history. Gov. Christie could have changed the whole marriage debate by offering legislation that would be equally fair to all of New Jersey’s citizens, placate the supporters of same-sex marriage and evangelicals, and offer an original idea that all states could adopt.

First, let me say that I’m not against “Gay Marriage”! If two people love each other then they should be allowed to spend the rest of their lives together in love. The state shouldn’t tell anyone who to marry or not marry. But we first must admit there’s more to this debate than “marriage-equality.” We must admit that there are financial implications, fairness issues, a whole bunch of misinformation and a downright denial of any societal effects of extending the privilege of marriage beyond the traditional.

In the future, same-sex couples, and probably other groups, WILL be granted the privilege of marriage at the federal level. I’m fairly sure about that. It’s clearly unfair to deny certain alternative lifestyles the benefits of marriage. Furthermore, let’s also acknowledge that other people who choose an alternative lifestyle will come forward to say that they were “born” to have 5 spouses. Others will complain that single citizens are paying far too high a cost for the resources they utilize. So we need to address our antiquated marriage laws today, and I have a plan to do so.

Let’s address the financial aspect of same-sex marriage. The “cost” of expanding the definition of marriage isn’t mentioned much, if ever, but allowing same-sex marriage will be a financial drain. Don’t think so? According to “PolitickerNJ” the homosexual population of New Jersey is 2.8%, about 240,000 people. If the definition of marriage is changed, many of those single individuals could become married couples, and enjoy the tax and (in some cases) insurance benefits married couples get. Thus there will be fewer resources going to the state and into the insurance system. Who will make up that difference? I will, you will, we will, with higher taxes and premiums. Would it be a significant cost? Probably not, but an increase is an increase.

There is also an issue of fairness. Is the current system fair to same-sex couples? Probably not! But it’s also not fair to me as a single man or others who choose an unorthodox lifestyle. As a single man I pay an exorbitant amount of money in taxes, but I use very few public resources. I also pay a great deal of money for my healthcare and motor vehicle insurance. I pay more for my standard of living than a man of my age and status who is married. Is the current system fair to single citizens? The answer is the same, probably not!

I’m already forced to supplement my married co-workers’ families with my monthly healthcare premium since, at my place of employment, the cost is the same whether you’re a single man or a man with 10 dependents. So when I hear the argument that it’s unfair to deny a same-sex couple the privilege of marriage, I’m less inclined to have much sympathy, because those benefits aren’t extended to me. The benefits of marriage are not a “human right,” they are a privilege extended to traditional couples for child-rearing, to lessen the financial burden of raising a family. It’s not based on fairness.

If we put aside the religious argument about same-sex marriage, all that’s left are the debates about fairness and money.

My suggestion is, let’s be truly fair about the money. I think everyone should partake and benefit equally when it comes to taxes, regardless of marital status.

So how did Gov. Christie miss his place in history? He missed an opportunity to cast aside the normal argument about “marriage-equality” and focus on “human” equality. Now that would be revolutionary, treating everyone the same, giving everyone the same choices. The solution is so simple! Remove the financial incentives tied to marriage, or offer them to every citizen regardless of marital status. The plan would be to allow every citizen who contributes to society to choose for themselves one person they’d like to share health insurance, vehicle insurance, taxes and all commonly and similarly shared incentives normally only given to traditional married couples. I, the human, not the government, would determine what fits best for me; I would decide who is my dependent. Seems fair doesn’t it? Seems doable too!

I guess some traditionally married couples might object to this plan since they would be on the losing end. No doubt it would be a tough sell. But placing freedom of choice into the hands of the citizen and not the government is progress the founding fathers would be proud of.

There is one caveat. This plan would highlight the notion, promoted by opponents of same-sex marriage, that allowing it would destroy the age-old idea of marriage as only between a man and a woman. Well, no plan is perfect.

Tom Sexton is a member of the People's Editorial Board.