EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the fifth story in a series examining the national debate over same-sex “marriage.” This series will resume Jan. 9.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (BP)–When the Queen of England announced recently that the British government was moving toward legalizing same-sex “partnerships” — and thus providing homosexuals many of the financial benefits of marriage — data was released showing the estimated cost.
Private businesses will spend up to $35 million (in U.S. dollars) a year on the proposed partnerships, the government estimated. Additionally, the cost to the government in 2010 will be some $133 million, and in 2050 around $425 million.
It is not known how much such partnerships would cost if legalized in America, because Great Britain has socialized healthcare and the United States doesn’t. But it’s a safe assumption that it would cost much more, being that the U.S. economy is around seven larger than the United Kingdom’s.
The debate over same-sex “marriage” in recent weeks has focused mostly on fairness and rights. But the cost to employers and the government — both federal and state — is another element to the debate that is sometimes overlooked.
Conservatives opposed to same-sex “marriage” already have moral objections. The financial issue only compounds the problem.
“If I believed that it was an issue of basic fairness, I would say, ‘Well, that’s just fair,” Glen Lavy, an attorney with the Alliance Defense Fund, told Baptist Press. “But it’s not an issue of basic fairness. Same-sex couples are not in the same situation as married couples.”
If marriage licenses are given to same-sex couples in Massachusetts next year, Christian business owners with moral objections to homosexuality will face a dilemma. Will they extend the spousal benefits, such as health insurance, to homosexual couples that are “married”? Or will they refuse to do so and face a lawsuit?
Lavy said such a case would have strong religious freedom implications.
“That would be a violation of the religious freedom of employers who are morally opposed to [homosexuality],” he said. “[But] courts have not been overly sensitive to religious freedom claims.”
Estimating the cost of same-sex “marriage” to America is difficult, primarily because no one knows how many same-sex couples will seek a marriage license. A New York Times story in August reported that even though a court in Ontario, Canada, has legalized same-sex “marriage,” few homosexual couples want to take the step.
But there are studies of the cost to businesses of so-called domestic partner benefits, which more than 200 of the Fortune 500 companies offer, according to the Human Rights Campaign. HRC, the nation’s largest homosexual activist group, says that businesses’ health insurance costs rise around 1-2 percent when they extend benefits to same-sex partners.
So, how do they pay for the extra cost?
“That increased insurance cost would probably be passed along to the rest of the employees, because companies are getting strung out on what they can pay for healthcare,” Lavy said.
As an example, Lavy told the story of a phone conversation he had recently with an employee of a large company that has begun offering domestic partner benefits.
“[The company] has decided to give domestic partner benefits, and at the same time they’re raising everyone’s deductible,” Lavy said. “They’re giving something to the same-sex couples but … there are only so many dollars in the pot.”
If San Francisco is an example, then the government can have a major influence. In that city, 75 percent of the companies that offer domestic partner benefits began doing so after San Francisco began requiring it, according to a report on the city’s website.
Many social conservatives argue that benefits are provided to married couples because, in turn, married couples benefit society. Columnist Maggie Gallagher wrote in the Dec. 1 Weekly Standard that “most of what can be described as the legal benefits of marriage, though now formally gender-neutral, were designed to protect women from the risks and costs that childbearing imposes.”
Because same-sex relationships do not benefit society, some say, they should not be afforded marriage benefits.
“Primarily, the benefits are offered [to married couples] because the relationship itself provides a rich benefit to the company, to the municipality, to the government,” Focus on the Family’s Glenn Stanton told Baptist Press. “That is not true of any other grouping of people who come along and present themselves in the same sincerity.”
Stanton has written a book, “Why Marriage Matters,” on the societal benefits of marriage.
“Those companies are enhanced by the number of marriages that are present among their employees,” he said. “Marriage provides a real cash benefit to employers, because the married people are healthier, they’re happier, they’re more productive employees, they hop from job to job less, they are more reliable. There’s less problem with dangerous behavior.”
There are “literally thousands of studies” to support his claims, Stanton said.
“There’s really no debate about [the benefits of marriage] within the scientific community,” he said.
By contrast, same-sex relationships are generally short and physically unhealthy, Lavy said.
Much of the legal debate this summer in the Lawrence v. Texas decision overturning anti-sodomy laws focused on homosexuals’ behavior. In legal briefs the Center for Arizona Policy quoted data stating that homosexuals have an average of 50 lifetime sexual partners compared to only four lifetime partners for heterosexuals. Additionally, the brief said that 2 percent of homosexual couples are monogamous while 83 percent of heterosexual couples are. Data was compiled from “The Social Organization of Sexuality” and “Sex in America: A Definitive Survey.”
“There is no evidence out there that same-sex couples give these same kinds of benefits to corporations [as married couples do],” Lavy said. “There’s no research that shows that.”