Civil Discourse Now

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Marriage equality makes economic sense: Saturday's Show about LGBT rights and Indiana's proposed constitutional amendment.

   When local mega-businesses like Eli Lilly and Cummins support a progressive position on an issue, one tends to take notice. This is not an ALEC pose on a matter of social issues. 

   The word "progress" and derivations of that word have been given pejorative connotations in recent years. As a noun, "progress" means "a proceeding to a further or higher stage, or through such stages progressively."  American College Dictionary, 1962 ed., p. 967.

   Why would large corporations favor marriage equality for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender persons ("LGBT")?

   As is true of so much in the business world, the answer is: money. No, Elton John has not dropped bribes on the boards of directors of Indiana-based businesses to garner opposition to the efforts of the Indiana General Assembly to pass, for a second time so the amendment may be placed on the statewide ballot for referendum, a constitutional provision that, in Indiana, marriage is between "one man" and "one woman."

   It would seem that corporate leaders want to attract smart people to the State of Indiana so the businesses may benefit from a more intelligent labor pool. And yes---the LGBT folks, on balance, are better-educated than the average. Or, as I heard a fellow in my hometown explain to his son, when asked why illiterates weren't "all bad," the father said, "I ain't never seen a faggot who can't read." (Apologies for the use of the pejorative noun to describe a male homosexual; I used it for accuracy and also for the full impact of how it was said.) One may forgive the father for his use of a bad word ("ain't" as well as the "f" word) and his employment of double negatives. One cannot overlook the prejudice felt by a great many people in this State.

   So, what other economic benefits are realized by marriage equality? In no particular order:

   Marriage equality allows partners to obtain benefits to which they otherwise would not be allowed. This is according to a 2009 report of the Williams Institute, a think tank at the UCLA Law School. If one wishes to argue this simply is another way of gaining access to Federal funds, then perhaps we should take the libertarian approach and abolish marriage as a function of State license completely. However, I doubt that would have much support from the voters (or members of the divorce bar).

   Total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism, as a result of marriage equality in Washington State, is estimated to bring in $88 million in the first three years since passage of that State's marriage equality provisions, according to a 2012 study by the Williams Institute. CNNMoney reported on 7/24/12 that New York City realized $259 million in income from marriage equality in the first year of the Empire State's foray into the realm of matrimonial equality. The City benefited from License fees, local celebrations (champagne, and the bad white sheet cakes that are more for decoration than eating) and wedding-related purchases. One estimate is the average wedding costs $19,000. Multiply that number by the weddings that will take place in Indiana, and that's a nice chunk of change split among florists, clothiers, and others involved in the wedding industry.

   There also is the matter of acceptance. Two days ago a transgender individual was beaten in front of a police station in Queens---they may have marriage equality in NYC, but there's still bigotry---and later died. To recognize marriage equality is not a sure resolution to such bigotry. After all, since 1954 and the decision in Brown v. Topeka, segregation has been unconstitutional in the United States. Racism still exists. However, the more we break down institutional safeguards for discrimination, the greater chance we have to blunt it. Today, young people are far more likely to accept LGBT persons than were people my age when I was in high school. 

   There is the other side of the debate. Rabbi Noson Leiter has called for more study of the economic impacts of marriage equality. He also blamed Hurricane Sandy on New York's marriage equality law. Reports are still out, I believe, on the meteorological merits of that theory.

   We stream live from 11 am to 1 pm on Saturdays. On our Show this Saturday we shall discuss Indiana's proposed amendment to define marriage as between "one man" and "one woman." We shall Skype in Tanya Domi from New York City, where she is an adjunct professor at Columbia University and Director of Media Relations and Spokesperson for the Graduate Center of the City of University of New York. Annette Siegel Gross who is a former volunteer for PFLAG and is active in Freedom Indiana, a group that opposes the constitutional effort.

   I will point out I have invited persons who favor the amendment to be on the panel on Saturday. I still await a positive response to the invitations.

    

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