I think our liberal leanings at Lady Economist are pretty evident, so it goes without saying that we are strong supporters of marriage equality and we hope the Supreme Court realizes the constitutionality of the arguments for allowing same sex couples marry (if they want that sorta thing). But besides constitutionality and basic human rights, marriage equality is also an economic issue. In fact, I might argue that it is largely an economic issue since the state-sponsored institution has nothing to do with sanctity of marriage (sanctity belongs in churches), but rather providing benefits to workers and their spouses.
This great post on the ACLU Blog of Rights “Marriage Equality is a Workers’ Rights Issue” by Nicole Berner describes the effects of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is being challenged in one of the two cases before the Supreme Court. “DOMA hurts lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender working Americans because marital status plays a key role in determining eligibility for—and taxation of—numerous workplace benefits and protections including healthcare coverage, retirement plans, workers’ compensation and more. These benefits and protections form the safety net upon which most working Americans and their families rely for retirement and financial assistance in the event of illness, injury, disability or death.”
These benefits afforded to couples is part of the fringe benefits and social contract we offer workers, often in exchange for pay lower than the value they contribute to the economy but also to keep the economy functioning smoothly by incentivizing commitment to working and being active members of the economy. By denying same sex married couples these rights, we’re creating a second classes of workers. We are allowing the exploitation of these workers when they can’t receive the equivalent of the value they produce in the economy (whether or not you think that we should give benefits to married couples over other family structures). So for all the other reasons its inequitable to not allow same sex couples to marry, it’s economically inequitable too.
Let them eat wedding cake.