The Economic Case For Same Sex Marriage. Agree?
The national discussion about same-
sex marriage is heating up. Just last week, North Carolina voted
to prohibit the practice, and, for the first time, President
Barack Obama clearly came out in favor of it.
The debate, which has focused on our evolving views on
sexuality, also mirrors a deeper generational shift in how we
view and experience marriage.
Naturally, couples who have bought into the traditional
notion of marriage -- with women taking care of the home and men
financially supporting them -- find the concept of same-sex
marriage foreign. Same-sex relationships are less likely to
involve traditional roles and separate spheres, as evidenced by
the fact that the partners are more likely to both work outside
One might have expected marriage to disappear as its
traditional benefits faded. Instead, it has evolved.
Modern marriage offers different benefits. Today, we search
for a soul mate rather than a good homemaker or provider. We are
more likely to regard marriage as a forum for shared experiences
For heterosexuals who have embraced the modern notion of
marriage, the idea of same-sex marriage seems natural. These
couples aren’t any different from them. They love and support
each other, raise kids together and are committed to each other.
They share values, desires and interests. Not allowing them to
marry is as arbitrary as not allowing couples of different
races, ethnicities or religions to marry.
It is no coincidence that many of the opponents of same-sex
marriage are also opponents of the ongoing shift to marriages of
equality. Theirs is a futile battle. The reach of markets will
keep expanding, allowing individuals and families to reap
greater returns by selling their specialized skills and services
outside the home. Technological change will further undermine
the benefits of specialization within the family. Improvements
in women’s education will continue to raise the opportunity cost
of staying at home.
The implication is that ultimately, traditional marriages
are doomed. And indeed, countries in which gender and social
norms have been the slowest to evolve have seen the biggest
declines in fertility and marriage.
The best way to let marriage thrive in the 21st century is
to embrace the new model of equality and to welcome all couples,
regardless of sexual orientation.
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