Weddings touch all of our lives at one point or another. If you’re single, you’ve probably attended at least one, or have even been a part of the wedding party. And if you’re volunteer or staff member in a faith community, then you’ve probably been to more weddings than you can possibly count. For all of these reasons, it makes perfect sense to assess weddings for their personal impacts on those involved, but also for their economic impacts in society. Wedding planners, jewelers, photographers, musicians, florists, caterers, event halls and sacred spaces all play key roles in these traditions. The more weddings that take place, the more money is invested across the local economy.
For all of these reasons, it should be no surprise that the prohibition of same-sex marriage in Texas is actually hindering the state’s economy. Here are the findings from Equality Texas…
The Williams Institute released a report today that marriage for same-sex couples in Texas would add $181.6 million to the state and local economy over a three-year period. The report predicts that 23,000 Texas couples would marry, spending an average of more than $6,000 per wedding. Up to 1,500 jobs would be created in the state.
“Overall these numbers seem, if anything, conservative for the long run,” said Dr. Daniel S. Hamermesh, Professor in Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, and Sue Killam Professor in the Foundation of Economics, University of Texas at Austin. “Further, marriage for same-sex couples allows couples to be better off – creating what economists call a ‘marital surplus’ which provides an even greater economic benefit.”
The Williams Institute utilized state-level data, as well as the 2010 U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, to conservatively estimate the impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples in Texas.
“The Williams Institute report affirms that the freedom to marry is good for business in Texas,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Allowing gay couples to marry here would give an economic boost to caterers, florists, event venues, and others who make a living through wedding planning.
The above just talks about a couple’s wedding day, but the benefits go far beyond that. Married couples contribute more in overall tax revenue (via better retirement investments, larger goods purchases like houses/cars and saving), and cost less to taxpayers because they rely less on things like government healthcare, dependent housing, home health aides and Social Security. If one believes in being a fiscal conservative then they should also believe in marriage equality. It just makes sense.
It’s also worth remembering just how close the Lone Star State is to having full marriage equality. The only reason same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Texas today is because Republican Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott filed an emergency stay to stop couples from getting married. If Democrats were to win the races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, things in Texas might be very different. He’s on the ballot this November, so you have a chance to tell him directly what you think of that decision.
Some very big news today out of Denver, as the state of Utah is dealt another huge blow to its ban on same-sex marriage in an unusually broad ruling. Here’s the scoop from LGBTQnation…
A federal appeals court ruled Wednesday that states must allow gay couples to marry, finding the Constitution protects same-sex relationships and putting a remarkable legal winning streak across the country one step closer to the U.S. Supreme Court.
The three-judge panel in Denver ruled 2-1 that states cannot deprive people of the fundamental right to marry simply because they want to be wedded to someone of the same sex.
The judges added they don’t want to brand as intolerant those who oppose gay marriage, but they said there is no reasonable objection to the practice.
“It is wholly illogical to believe that state recognition of love and commitment of same-sex couples will alter the most intimate and personal decisions of opposite-sex couples,” the judges wrote, addressing arguments that the ruling could undermine traditional marriage.
The decision by the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals panel upheld a lower court ruling that struck down Utah’s gay marriage ban. It becomes law in the six states covered by the 10th Circuit: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Utah and Wyoming. But the panel immediately put the ruling on hold pending an appeal.
The Utah attorney general’s office will appeal the decision but is still assessing whether it will go directly to the U.S. Supreme Court or ask the entire 10th Circuit to review the ruling, spokeswoman Missy Larsen said.
So why is this ruling by the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals the strongest yet to favor nation-wide marriage equality? Well for one thing, it affects the court’s entire jurisdiction. If that temporary hold were to be lifted, same-sex marriages could immediately commence in each state. The other big thing the 10th Circuit did in their ruling? They drew battle lines between religious recognition of marriages, and the obligation of states to treat their citizens equally. Even in the 2013 Supreme Court ruling striking down California’s ban, the Justices still tried desperately to skirt around this particular issue.
The 10th Circuit Court also threw down “the gauntlet”, finally posing marriage and family as a right guaranteed by the 14th Amendment. If as expected, this ruling is then appealed up to the Supreme Court, they will be forced to make a final decision on which is more important… the rights of the state, or the rights of the individual?
With similar cases heading to other Circuit courts, it will be very interesting to see how long the Supreme Court can hold off on the issue. Make no mistake, marriage equality is winning, and fast. This ruling, more than any one’s we’ve seen yet since 2013, is sure to have major national implications.
You know, I keep reading things on the “debate” over same-sex marriage and the more I read, the more I feel like people are simply missing the point… on both sides sometimes. What do I mean by that? Well, I’m glad you asked. What I mean is that the debate focuses so much on what the Bible does and does not say, what the merits of legalizing it versus not are, whether being gay is a choice or not, and the list goes on. Honestly, to all of those things I would like to say, once and for all, who the hell cares?
Civil marriages in the United States of America have absolutely nothing to do with what the Bible, or any other holy book of any other religion, says. We are a country that is “not in any sense, founded on the Christian religion” according to the Treaty of Tripoli, so any arguments that appeal to theology of any kind are irrelevant from the start. Regardless of that fact, and it is a fact, there are many people who insist on continuing to bring religion into the civil discussion. People have this habit of saying, “The word of God makes it clear…” and then proceed to say something that the Bible doesn’t now, nor has it ever said, in many cases. Honestly, my biggest issue with this argument is that, as a person who has spent a large amount of time reading the Bible, studying the Bible, studying the history, and reading multiple commentaries I can pretty comfortably say that there is not much that the Bible actually makes clear at all… It is rife with contradictions and inaccuracies. Any claims to the contrary are simply academically dishonest. No, I am not anti-Christian, I am very much a Christian myself, but I have no qualms with saying that the Bible is challenging in many ways. I mean, if the Bible really made things so clear, then there wouldn’t be literally THOUSANDS of Christian sects all claiming to have it right.
My second qualm with this argument is one that arises as a Christian: you see, to me the Word of God is Jesus. The Bible is a library of 66 books from different writers, different cultures, and different times. Using it as a “rule book” for life in the post-2K world is a little crazy. There are things written there that apply to cultures over 3000 years old. Things that, by any measure, are barbaric now. There are also wonderful things there. There is great wisdom to be had from the Bible, but if you really tried to use it as a rule book, without picking and choosing, you would go crazy quickly. I mean, if you bought a table from Ikea with instructions as “clear” as the Bible you would be taking it back and asking for your money back very quickly.
As for the merits of legalizing same-sex marriage versus not… well, as a married gay man I can’t see any harm in it at all. You know, Matthew and I are legally married and the world hasn’t ended yet, as far as I’m aware NONE of our neighbors even know, and our marriage has, so far, had zero direct effect on anyone but ourselves. What has it done for us? Well, it’s saved us a ridiculous amount of money on health insurance as he no longer has to pay taxes on my portion of it. If something were to happen to him, our home would be my home, because I am the next of kin. It gives us every single federal right any other married couple has. The down sides…well, I fail to see any.
The last point up there, whether it’s a choice or not, this one comes up a lot, and it really irks me more than any other argument. I’m sorry, but why is that even up for discussion. I can tell you with 100% certainty that I never chose who I found attractive or who I could form that deep, to the soul, earth changing bond with. I can say that until I’m blue in the face, though, and there are people who will argue with me that it really is a choice because apparently somehow they know better. That’s neither here nor there, though. The reason this gets to me is simple: whether it’s a choice who you are attracted to or not, everyone has a choice in who they marry and who they spend their life with. The end. Whether you are male or female, gay or straight, you choose, in this country, who you marry. So, even if it was a choice, so what? This is MY choice, and not yours. I don’t understand how this logic works: ‘who you marry is a choice, therefore you should choose what I’m comfortable with and not what you are comfortable with.’ I mean, really? Do you realize how selfish and ridiculous that sounds? Of course, my marriage is a choice, who I engage with sexually is a choice, etc… who I fall in love with is not, but that’s a totally different question all together.
At this point in my life I am with a man who makes me happier than anyone in the world ever has. I am with someone who connects with me on a far deeper level than simply friendship and our relationship certainly does not revolve around sex, like many seem to think homosexual relationships do. We have three children running around all the time, we both work, we have chores that sometimes get done and sometimes don’t…. when is there time for anything else? The reason I bring all of this up is simple: Matthew and I are married. Legally. You can say all day long that that is impossible, but we really do have the piece of paper to prove it is very much possible. With all of that said, I honestly do not care if another person doesn’t approve. I don’t care what their religious convictions are. I don’t care what their opinions are. What I DO care about is that they allow ME to have my freedom of religion and morality, that they don’t force their harmful theology on my children, teaching them that their father is a sinful monster, and that they allow other people the same rights. The reason I speak out is NOT to silence other opinions. The reason I speak out is because libel and hate, whether intended as such or not, must be called out for what it is.
This “debate” is not abstract. This “debate” is not theoretical or theological. There are lives and families on the line, literally. Fighting against this is fighting against the health and wellness of thousands of very real people and very real families. Please don’t call yourself “pro-family” if your crusade is going to destroy families. Call yourself pro-straight-family if you must, but don’t pretend my family is not real.
The reason I stated above that “both sides” are sometimes missing the point is because over and over I see this side allowing the debate to go to these irrelevant points. The point is simple, to me: My family is not a political statement. We are not a religious statement. We are a family. We are NOT up for debate. We are human,we are family, and we deserve the same dignity and respect as all others.
If you’re reading this post, it’s quite possible that you know who the author is. You may have actually seen my face, or met me in person. Maybe you’ve heard me speak, or even sing before.
It’s also possible (perhaps more likely) that you don’t know me at all. You may have encountered my blog on the Internet, and the words on your screen are the only encounter you’ve ever had with me. If that’s the case, then it’s time for me to come clean about something to you.
I’m a darky. I was born one actually… No make-up or blackface here. Just my God-given skin. Yep, I’m a darky just like Oprah, Beyonce or MLK. We’re all darkies actually. That’s me, and that is my defining concept.
Or well, maybe it would have been in the 19th century. But actually, not even then.
My point with the concept is that the term “darky” used to be quite common in the United States, but now, it’s virtually extinct. Any clue why we lost “darky” from the lexicon? It was replaced by the term HUMAN. Race has become less important as a method of defining people… It is now less important than being a person. Make no mistake, I’m still a person of a certain race, but the most important descriptor of me is that I am a person.
Ok now let’s climb out of the 19th century and enter the 20th. This week, if you’re like me, you probably heard the term “interracial marriage” more in the last 48 hours than you’ve heard it used in the last 5 years. There is a reason for that… “Interracial” marriage is a THING OF THE PAST. People just get married. Those people may be white, or black or brown or any mixture thereof, but when they get married, they don’t define themselves by being interracially married anymore. They are just married. Most of the country has evolved beyond this being an issue. We’ve also evolved from the notion that these interracials produce children that are inherently evil, or they don’t have a soul. We just look at bi-racial and multi-racial people as… well… PEOPLE. Anyone asked Mariah Carey or President Obama if they have a soul lately?
Listening to the Supreme Court hearings this week, I became very upset by the continued assertion that somehow “gay” marriage is this great unknown. The justices referred to it as “uncharted territory” and “newer than cell phones or the internet.” But for us to even suggest that there’s anything new about either marriage, or being homosexual? It’s one of most ignorant arguments I’ve ever heard. As though somehow gay people didn’t want to be married before the year 2000, when the first contemporary marriages (as defined by the court) were recognized? In every moment of human history, homosexuality has existed. And in every moment of homosexuality, homosexual unions have existed, regardless of whether they were married on a government file or not. It seems that the judges and solicitors need to educate themselves on the reality of GLBT history. I recommend John Boswell’s Same-Sex Unions in Pre-Modern Europe as a start to unlock the church’s homosexual history. Or for an even quicker lesson, read the poetry of Amy Lowell or listen to the musical works of Samuel Barber and Gian Carlo Menotti… a testament to their relationship. All were Americans, and all were gay.
So here’s my suggestion… We need to not only ban the notions of “gay” marriage and “same-sex” marriage, we need to destroy them completely. Like “darky” and “interracial”, these terms will soon be relics of the past. Every time those in support of equality even acknowledge that there is somehow a “gay marriage” or “same-sex marriage” we lose the argument. Marriage is a union of people… It’s a merger. Two independent persons take an action together, and choose to combine their lives in various ways. As is said at virtually all wedding ceremonies, “marriage unites two families, and creates a new one.”
But even within this basic understanding of a marriage, no two of them are alike. Some married couples live together. Some don’t. Some have children. Some don’t. Some are monogamous for the entirety of their lives together. Some are not. But as a greater society, we honor all of these differences and recognize these people as being in a marriage… Mostly because they say they are.
So it’s time to ask ourselves… How is the action of marriage any different between two heterosexual people and two homosexual people? Do they create a new family? Does that family live together? Spend time together? Love each other? Do those families go out of their way to help each other? Do they stay together for the rest of their lives?
The answers are the same for gay and straight couples… and there’s not one perfect answer. It’s time for us to get rid of gay marriage. People meet, they fall in love, they get married. They commit their lives to each other, and it’s DONE.
Let’s stop living in the past people. The only way to truly achieve equality is to demand equality, and nothing less. So let’s do that… Say goodbye to gay marriage.
Well looking back on it, we are now safe to assume that May 9th, 2012 will be a historical mile-marker in the history of GLBT Civil Rights. Sure, President Obama is one man, but he’s also the President. His stance in support of same-sex marriage rights didn’t change any laws, but it has had a firestorm of consequences.
Public Opinion on same-sex marriage was already turning rapidly, but with President Obama’s completed “evolution”, it’s now swung the other way. For the first time in history, a majority of our country now supports same-sex marriage rights. The numbers get even crazier on a state basis. Take Maryland, where Gov. Martin O’Malley and the legislature just legalized gay marriage in March. The new law is facing the ususal opposition though, and a referendum is expected to make the November ballot. But after the President revealed his opinion, opposition among blacks is literally falling off of a cliff. Last month, the black community in Maryland opposed gay marrige by 55%. Now it has swung in the other direction with 57% of black Maryland residents in favor. Almost overnight.
Following fast on the heels of Obama’s announcement, the NAACP has now formally marriage equality, stressing that “Civil marriage is a civil right and a matter of civil law.” This doesn’t mean that all black churches agree with the religious institution of homosexual marriage, but they can all agree that all citizens are entitled to civil marriage, and to let churches do as they wish. Thus, opposition to gay marriage has eroded swiftly in the black community. Again it’s not law, but where organizations like the NAACP go, so goes public opinion, and ultimately a change in the law.
So there you have it. Can a clearer party line ever be drawn? Mitt Romney caves to the pressure of Right-wing extremists and lets an openly gay staffer be forced from his campaign. But today in an interview with ABC’s Robin Roberts, President Obama drops this soundbite…
Full disclosure… we knew it was coming. You could tell from previous answers he’s had on the subject, but I must say that it is a real joy and relief to hear this before the election. If for some reason the President loses to Romney, at least now he will be able to say that he did what he could for ALL Americans.
And just so we’re clear and you know who to vote for in November, this is the official Republican Party Response from RNC Chairman Reince Priebus (via Talking Points Memo):
““While President Obama has played politics on this issue, the Republican Party and our presumptive nominee Mitt Romney have been clear. We support maintaining marriage between one man and one woman and would oppose any attempts to change that,”
So one political party has rapidly expanding support for marriage equality, and one says NO and wants to keep things exactly how they are. Notice he didn’t say, ‘this should be left up to states to decide’. He didn’t let Mitt Romney speak for himself. He said Gay marriage is wrong, and ALL Republicans share in this view. You can’t draw a more CLEAR distinction than that.
It’s called COURAGE folks. If you love someone, you love them for who they are. Even if you don’t agree with their lifestyle choices, you defend their rights as citizens of this country. On behalf of me and everyone else who has had to suffer in the fight for GLBT equality, I want to thank President Obama for being a good man, and supporting marriage rights for all Americans.