Thursday, May 12, 2005

How Had I Not Read This Before?

I just happened across this argument ( that gay marriage will weaken marriage in general because of the marginal cases in which individuals don't get married because they find gay marriage wrong. The problem is that Galt (the writer) uses the following examples to illustrate how marginal analysis works:
1. Income taxes decreasing economic activity
2. Welfare benefits leading to more single mothers
3. The relaxation of divorce laws causing increase in divorces

These are all excellent examples of how marginal analysis is needed to fully predict what will happen when a policy is enacted. However, these are all examples where the parties involved have DIRECT financial incentives to change behavior! Marriage, however, is quite different- me getting married does not take away from the total allowed marriages available, thereby raising the cost of you getting married. Therefore, we have less reason to believe that allowing gay marriage will have any where near as large of an effect on marriage as what Galt's examples would at first lead us to believe.

Marginal analysis might still suggest that some people will choose not to get married because of personal prejudices, but I do not worry about this. I have two main reasons:

1. A couple who does not marry when they face absolutely not direct cost must not value marriage very highly. They are therefore more likely to get divorced, which has high costs for both the couple and third parties (potential children, legal system burden, etc.)
2. Setting policy to save one group only psychic costs while inflicting more direct financial costs on another is dangerous. Surely there are some marginal cases where white supremicist couples decided not to marry because interracial marriage is legal, and yet we do not throw out civil rights advances that have surely offset whatever losses are experienced by the racist couple.

As long as I'm talking political about an old comment (how did I not read this before?) I'll go ahead and say my stance- any two consenting adults should be able to sign a contract that allows them legal rights equal to the legal rights given to any other two consenting adults under a similar contract. Legally, marriage should be nothing more than a contract. It is not the government's place to worry about the sanctity of marriage (or anything else). That is the business of religious groups.


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