NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Why Should We Care?

February 25, 2004

Why should we care whether or not same-sex couples can get married? For a number of reasons, says Mary Ann Glendon, Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard University.

Among the economic and social costs she foresees in what she terms a "radical social experiment":

  • Homosexual marriage is a new special preference that would cost the rest of society in terms of taxes and insurance premiums -- in Canada, for instance, it is estimated that retroactive social-security survivor benefits alone would cost taxpayers hundreds of millions of dollars.
  • Society gives married couples special benefits because most of them are raising or have raised children -- and research shows that intact families are the most desirable for raising children; by contrast, the Massachusetts judges who discovered a right to same-sex marriage claim that marriage is mainly for the benefit of adults; that children do not need both a mother and a father; and that alternative family forms are just as good as a husband and wife raising kids together.
  • Furthermore, treating same-sex households like married couples is unjust when such benefits are denied to all the people who are caring for elderly or disabled relatives whom they cannot claim as family members for tax or insurance purposes.
  • And, as in other countries that have created same-sex marriages or civil unions, once these arrangements become law every person who disagrees will be openly discriminated against and religious institutions will be sued if they refuse to compromise their principles.

Finally, the view of marriage advanced by the judges would be what children are taught in school, says Glendon. For these and other reasons, she says, the need for a federal marriage amendment has become increasingly clear.

Source: Mary Ann Glendon, "For Better or Worse," Wall Street Journal, February 25, 2004.

For WSJ text (subscription required),,SB107767097367738444,00.html


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