NPR contributor Nancy Goldstein has calculated the "gay tax" -- the amount gay couples must spend to receive the same services that married heterosexual couples can count on everyday. In a column, she writes:

The cost of love isn't an abstract concept in my household: It's precisely $1,820 per year. That's the "gay tax" we shell out for me to be on my wife's health insurance plan, because her company must treat that benefit as additional taxable income.


Goldstein adds that "The media's primary focus on the morality debate around same-sex marriage means that most of the public, gay or straight, knows little about the very real economic costs of inequality."

The largest costs of marriage inequality also tend to be the easiest to quantify: Social Security survivor benefits denied, joint tax returns not filed, and many, many other cost savings that most married couples probably don't even think about.
It's this side of the gay marriage debate that has led the normally middle-of-the-road financial guru Suze Orman to wade into the debate. In her Valentine's Day message on her show, she said that "It is such a travesty, Proposition 8 in California passed, Proposition 2 in Florida passed. What is that about everybody? We are taking away a birthright, if you ask me, for people to get the most out of the money that they have spent their lives working for. Those people are making money, they pay taxes on the money. Every single one of us deserves to have the same financial benefits, whether we are gay or whether we are straight."

GOP Chairman Michael Steele made the enragingly cynical argument that gay marriage would burden small businesses -- of course you could have said the same thing about interracial marriage and any number of other social evolutions. In fact, you could make that argument about marriage in general.

If the gay marriage debate could be looked at in that light -- instead of the polarizing notion of trying to redefine the family and other grandiose myths -- more people would come to their senses and realize that it is wrong and un-American to make people pay extra taxes for making a life with someone of their own gender. That argument will never convince the far right, but it should be enough to sway the moderate majority who are on the fence about gay marriage. Forward Goldstein's column to anyone you know who fits into that camp, and let's turn this thing around.

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