Thursday, October 25, 2012

Politics is as personal as ever, day 10: The Queer Tax Tally

Okay, it's Day 10 and it's time to get out your pencil and paper.

So yesterday I told you about the $2,400 per year the federal government charges Darling Virgo and me because it refuses to recognize our marriage.  Refresher: this is a tax on the portion of my health insurance premium paid by my DV's employer.  So let's say that for the next ten years I work only part time in order to manage the significant needs of our family, and therefore depend on my partner's employer for health insurance.

That's: $2,400 X 10 years = $24,000.

You can put that at the top of your tally sheet: $24,000.

Now let's talk Social Security.  Have you heard of Social Security?  The political third rail.  The most loved social policy in the history of our country.  Well here's the deal about Social Security: it's a better deal for you than it is for me.  See, we all pay into Social Security at the same rate, but we aren't all buying the same product.  You, if you are straight and married, are buying baseline security from retirement 'til death for yourself and your spouse.  I, for the same price, am buying baseline security from retirement 'til death for me.

What does this mean?  It means that if your spouse outlives you, he or she will receive between 75 to 100 percent of your Social Security benefits until he or she dies.  Still got that pencil?

For comparison's sake, let's say:
  • Your professional career is like mine (you feel grateful to have a salary when you do and usually it has covered most of your basic needs);
  • Your Social Security benefit after retirement will be something like $800 per month;
  • You die (God forbid) ten years before your beloved spouse.  

That's: $800 X 75 % X 12 months X 10 years = $72,000 your husband/wife will get to pay 10 years of heat bills and prescription co-pays.

Now let's say:
  • I continue on the same career trajectory;
  • My Social Security benefit after retirement will be something like $800 per month;
  • I die (God forbid) ten years before my beloved partner.

That's: $800 X 0% X 0 months X 0 years = $0 my partner will get to live in a drafty apartment and take periodic trips over the Canadian border to pick up her scrips. 

See what I mean? We're now up to:

                                   $24,000 in you-can't-get-married-taxes
                                + $72,000 Social Security benefits my partner or I will never get
                                   $96,000 Queer Tax

Would you like me to go on?  I could.  Really.  There are plenty more examples.  But I think the point is made: marriage discrimination = significant income siphoned from queer families = effective method of using the gays to pad the tax base.

And when you look at these numbers, when you write them down with your pencil, and add up those columns, and carry the one, can't you just see how they have precisely nothing to do with anyone's church?  Or God.  Or the sacred bond between two human companions.  They don't even have anything to do with love.  Because love doesn't fit on a tally sheet anymore than it fits into legislation.  You can't make a law about love!  There's no way to measure it, or certify it, or tax it, or enforce it.  See, when it comes down to it, the condition of legal marriage has absolutely nothing to do with the sanctity of anything.  It is a legal definition that prescribes how two people must handle their property and interact with various government policies and programs.

So to those who oppose legal marriage on the grounds that our love is profane, I suggest you choose another fight because you will never win this one: you can tax us 'til the cows come home, but we won't stop loving.  To those who are appalled by the queer tax tally sheet: I ask that you take this up with every Romney supporter you meet.  Because here's the thing, I can't afford anything less.



  1. Well said! However, it doesn't make me feel any better this week where in the great state of Massachusetts I was told that myself and 5 other employees at my new place of employment will have to take our health insurance as a post tax benefit, so they can continue to offer it to everyone else as a pre-tax benefit..."Take one for the team if you will" sorry that you are dealing with these issues too. I was shocked that this hit me so hard, but I think outrage can be a good thing!

  2. Great post. I am a straight single female, and have been pushing marriage equality with a few friends, who are against marriage for all. It's nice to have some other ammo in my pocket, to help my debate. It seems my fight about marriage being an equal right for all, because everyone deserves to live their life with who makes them happy, doesn't hold much weight in many (closed) mind conversations I've had. It's nice to have a financial perspective, not that it may make a difference, but it's definitely good information. I'll keep fighting for equal rights for you, and everyone else facing such discrimination, until everyone is allowed to marry whomever their little hearts desire.