Image from Governing.com
I've been hearing a lot about how good gay marriages will be for California's economy. I am not comfortable with this simplification of the issue. It's like heterosexuals have found a way to justify gay marriage in pure economic terms. After all, how much harm can homosexuality do to California's heterosexual culture if it does so much good to California's economy?
Michael LIndenberger from Time reports,
A report released by the Williams Institute at UCLA law school says fully half of the state's 102,000 gay couples could wed in the next three years. UCLA law professor Brad Sears told TIME that the number is in keeping with experience in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is also legal, and Vermont, which permits civil unions. Another 67,000 or so are expected to arrive from other states, says Sears, the report's co-author. Those couples and their guests will spend some $680 million in tourism dollars, a welcome boost to a state whose hard-hit economy could use all the help it can get.
Justin Ewers at U.S. News & World Report also mentions the UCLA study, which predicts,
approximately half of the 103,000 same-sex couples living in the state will get married in the next three years. Nearly 70,000 same-sex couples from other states, they predict, will come here to marry...the combination of marriage license fees, increased state and local tax revenues, and the attendant boost in tourism spending by wedding guests is likely to create and sustain over 2,100 jobs in California...Even Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has thrown his support behind the court's decision, has said same-sex marriage will be good for the state's economy. "You know, I'm wishing everyone good luck with their marriages, and I hope that California's economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married," he told a gathering in San Francisco on May 21.
This kind of talk reminds me of the cost-benefit discussions of undocumented immigration. Like those claims that undocumented immigrants don't pay taxes, strain our health are and public education, and abuse our welfare system--these are all misleading and largely untrue, but they strongly support our country's anti-immigrant sentiment. They are based on the idea that undocumented immigrants bring us a little labor and lots of family.
In other words, undocumented immigration today is hypersexualized, feminized. Pure labor wasn't a problem when it was just the men coming to work on a seasonal basis, we happily incorporate undocumented male labor into our economy. Why not? It's pure gain for U.S. citizens; they work hard and don't demand rights because we keep them under fear through their undocumented status. But we resist children and pregnant mothers because they become our dependents. Immigrant labor brings wealth to our country, but immigrant children bring costs: they are a net loss.
On the other hand, gay marriage is being framed, in an economic sense, like the pure undocumented male labor that is good for California's economy. Gay marriage is about non-dependent adults. They work, they spend money.
It doesn't feel right reducing gay marriage to pure economic gain. I know there are people using this information as one of the pluses for heterosexuals to accept gay marriage, and I get that. But it's just weird, and how do gay people feel about this? The us/them mentality really stands out with gay marriage just as it does with immigration--what can "they" do for "us?"
I don't know, as long as gay marriage passes, its advocates should be happy. But the end result can't be the only thing that matters--it's good to at least take a good look at what measures are taken to get to that result.