05 December 2012

Gay Marriage: A Pocketbook Issue?

There are historians as well as people who know even less about history than I know who argue that even if the Civil War hadn't been fought and Lincoln hadn't made his Emancipation Proclamation, slavery would have ended.  Those people say that using dark-skinned people as agricultural machinery became less profitable as machines made of metal came into use.  Those inanimate contraptions didn't need to be fed or housed, even in the conditions in which most African-Americans lived.  In time, they even came to cost less to buy than slaves.

Now, I don't feel I know enough about the issues--particularly the economic ones--involved to say whether those people's arguments are valid.  However, I have enough common sense to know that more issues and elections are decided on economics than ideology.

And so I was very interested to read this article that came my way.  It disappointed me in that it was poorly written and organized:  If one of my students had written it, I would have returned it and demanded major revisions.  On the other hand, it does raise a pertinent question:  Might Indiana voters decide not to include a ban on gay marriage in the Hoosier State's constitution because they realize it's bad for business?  Or, might they find that it's good for business and vote for it?

Of course, the states that have legalized same-sex marriage have made some money from what the couples spend on the ceremony and, in some cases, their honeymoons and their travel to the state if they come from states that still don't allow same-sex marriage.  Even more to the point, as some people in Indiana are realizing, allowing same-sex marriage could help to attract young talent to work and to buy homes, cars and other things that go with setting down roots and starting families.  That is the reason why Eli Lilly, the state's largest private employer, and Simon Properties, its largest realtor, oppose including a ban in the state constitution.

On the other hand, some argue that allowing same-sex marriage would actually be a disincentive to do business in the state, as employers would have to provide domestic partners' benefits and such.  Somehow, I have my doubts about that argument:  A number of firms in New York City--including some in the FIRE industries--began to provide domestic-partner benefits during the 1990's, long before New York State legalized same-sex weddings.  As a matter of fact, I was, ironically, a beneficiary of one company's largesse: Near the end of my life as a man, my then-girlfriend and I got a Domestic Partnership Agreement, which was sufficient to get me coverage on the very good insurance plan her company offered her.

In another irony, I actually hope that a lot of Hoosiers decide to vote with the "bottom line" and, at least, not to include a ban on same-sex couplings in its constitution.  On the other hand, from what I understand, Indiana is one of the most politically conservative states in the nation--at least it was, not long ago, the most Republican state.   Also, it's different from nearby states like Iowa, Illinois and Michigan in that larger numbers of its people belong to evangelical or other fundamentalist churches.  Will their beliefs trump their pocketbooks?  I hope not.  I still can't believe I said that.  But there it is.

No comments: