Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Marriage Equality Does Expand Liberty

The Foundation for Economic Education presented a debate on marriage equality. Richard Lorenc, from FEE, argued that marriage equality expands liberty. His opponent, Richard Esposito spends a lot of time spewing out "facts" that are half-truths and often out of context. FEE asks people to vote for the best one at the cost of $1 each, which says nothing about quality of arguments, only intensity of feelings about gay marriage.

Gay people and their supporters are passionate about this and so are anti-gay people. Most fall into neither camp and don't feel strongly. Those at the extreme "anti" side of the spectrum tend to be religious and obsessed with this. They outnumber gay people by about 4 to 1. In that sense, the FEE debate asking for $1.00 per vote is more likely to favor the anti-gay marriage side of the debate.

Let me first comment on Mr. Lorenc's case. His arguments are sound in theory, though short on fact, choosing to focus on the principles alone. Esposito, however, makes a lot of factual claims, but is weak on theory and his factual claims are often taken out of context, or are at best half truths.

Lorenc notices the argument for same-sex marriage has "distinct Hayekian undertones." He is correct about this and we present a more-in depth Hayekian analysis at the link.

Lorenc says "legalizing gay marriage simply expands the number of potential marriage licenses, removing the arbitrary limit that an opposite-sex definition creates." It does expand the number of people who may marry, but does much more than that as well. Currently, the state can deny marriage contracts—at least those of legal consequence—from gay couples. When we pass marriage equality, we remove that power from the state. Marriage, when one looks at what it does, also reduces the amount of control the state has over a couple. The amount of revenue it can extract from them is significantly reduced. In fact, anti-gay conservatives actually raised this issue before the Iowa Supreme Court, complaining that allowing gays to marry would reduce tax collections, and thus reduce their subsidies to straight couples. The Court mentioned this argument in their ruling in Varnum v. Brien: "due to our laws granting tax benefits to married couples the State of Iowa would reap less tax revenue if individual taxpaying gay and lesbian people were allowed to obtain a civil marriage." (p. 60.)