Saturday, May 16, 2009

Gays Cost Too Much Money

Today, Republican Committee Chairman Michael Steele unveiled the latest really bad argument against gay marriage: it's going to cost small businesses money.
"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. "So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money."

Steele claims that this kind of message can reach a "broader base." If this is an example of Steele's new innovative ideas for Republican renewal, we might as well forget about it.  It completely ignores the primary questions about gay marriage and takes a purely cynical approach. Let's just forget about whether gay people deserve equal treatment with regard to marriage and focus on possible monetary costs. It's almost an admission that standard arguments against gay marriage are so weak that opponents need to find a new tactic.

Even if you set aside the cynical nature of Steele's argument and consider it purely on its merits, it still falls flat. Gays are a small minority of the population. Gay people who want to get married are apparently a minority of a minority. The impact is hardly going to devastate small business. Then there is the fact that married gay couples, or those who wish to marry, are not exactly in the closet. A small business with such employees will probably be well aware of their situation. It's not going to be a big surprise as Steele seems to think. Many corporations already offer benefits to the partners of gay employees. Small businesses which offer benefits do so in order to retain good workers. If they have a married gay employee, offering benefits serves exactly the same purpose as with married straight employees.

Steele's argument boils down to: we need to discriminate against gays because not doing so will cost small business money. That's not exactly a good message for the GOP.

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