Same-Sex 'Marriage' Likely to Prove Costly

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), May 18, 2004 | Go to article overview

Same-Sex 'Marriage' Likely to Prove Costly


Byline: Tom Ramstack, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Employers, insurance companies, consumers and the government would foot the bill for the financial benefits that homosexuals would gain if same-sex "marriage" is legalized nationally.

Insurance and tax costs would drop for the partners, while spousal benefits would increase.

A General Accounting Office report lists 1,138 federal laws in which marital status conveys benefits, rights or privileges. The benefits include Social Security, disability payments, food stamps, Medicare and welfare.

"Won't this just break the bank?" said Rep. Spencer Bachus, Alabama Republican, during a House Judiciary Constitution subcommittee hearing last week on same-sex "marriage."

Health care and retirement benefits for domestic partners of federal employees would cost the government about $1.4 billion from 2004 to 2013, according to a Congressional Budget Office report that was cited by Mr. Bachus.

Like President Bush, he supports a proposed constitutional amendment that would define marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

The exact cost to the government if same-sex "marriage" benefits were extended nationally has not been tallied, although government officials say it would be high.

"It would undoubtedly have a significant impact on the budget through lower revenues and higher spending," White House spokesman Trent Duffy said.

Massachusetts yesterday began allowing same-sex "marriages," and other states are considering it.

However, only the federal government can decide who can file joint tax returns, receive Social Security or get other federal benefits.

"For tax purposes, it doesn't matter what the states rule," said Tara Bradshaw, spokeswoman for the Treasury Department.

Many unmarried homosexual couples pay significantly more in federal and state taxes than their married counterparts, according to a National Gay and Lesbian Task Force report released last month.

The report profiled a homosexual couple that paid $1,929, or 25 percent, more per year in state and federal taxes than a heterosexual couple earning the same amount. The homosexual couple could not file a joint tax return.

As with opposite-sex couples, the sliding scale of tax rates would create the biggest advantage of a joint return for same-sex "married" couples with greatly different incomes. Equal incomes would create no advantage for a joint return.

Greater financial advantages also would come from insurance and Social Security benefits, which married people can receive when their spouses are sick, injured or die.

Insurance companies interpret their obligations to same-sex domestic partners differently.

In California, Kaiser Permanente, a health care provider, said it would provide same-sex partner benefits until the state Supreme Court rules otherwise.

However, State Farm Insurance, the auto and home insurance company, said it would provide same-sex partner benefits in California, only if the state Supreme Court gives legal recognition to homosexual "marriages" this summer.

Nevertheless, many employers are granting domestic-partner benefits, such as health insurance, as an incentive. …

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