The complications of same-sex marriage

Opinion: Columns

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Murrell Seldon

When it comes to marriage, there are two aspects of concern. One is the spiritual aspect and brings up the question: Does God approve of gay and lesbian marriage? Another is the material world: Who gets what (and who pays for what)?

This seemed so clear long ago, and mainstream religion wanted (and still wishes) for marriage between a man and a woman to be supreme. Politicians always supported the ones who vote for them, though many (or most) now seem to support whoever gives them money to be re-elected. A politician who did not listen to mainstream religious leaders was doomed to lose. Not now.

When it comes to politics, the politician will lose often. Why? Money talks louder than words. When organizations talk, politicians listen. When religions talk, more and more, nobody listens. Partly this is because there are now in America over 30,000 religious groups (and most are not organized or speak with the voice of God or even with one voice). This is why people say, "God is dead."

Why have politicians listened to those who want financial benefits of marriage, such as school for their children, the benefits of a joint return, lower taxes because of real estate loan interest and the fact that families with children are voters? I understand supporting one child to age 18 costs over $200,000 (if done rightly). So, logically, politicians have said, "Raising children is expensive, and marriage between men and women is the standard."

Today, half of children born in our area of the country have no father. Of course, partly the reason is that incomes have gone down. Times have changed, and Victorian homes no longer have a dozen kids in the family. Often two must work to meet family expenses. The power of unions, which once were the power of votes on behalf of working families has declined. Now it is different and difficult for seniors to send one to a nursing home! In days gone by, not many were sent. Seniors were taken care of at home, often by children who grew up. Before my grandmother died, there was no social security, and in those days mental illness was the "kiss of death" for family finances.

Today, in most states, when one needs Medicaid for nursing home care, the cost can be nearly $100,000 per year. Who pays? The government pays, after one spends down assets to something like $3,000. The marriage mate pays down all their assets (except for a car, half of a home, and $100,000). Who does not pay? The gays and lesbians (who may live together, but are not linked by laws) and the fathers and mothers, who are not linked by legal marriage. Who are the losers? The losers are the legally married couples - because one is left in poverty. And in this country and village, $100,000 is not much. If you think you can live long and don't have a job (because of old age) you must move.

So I am not going to say what should be done. But don't count on the government! When interest rates start climbing (the covetous ones will be selling short bonds) and that is why we have a "bond bubble." Unfunded pension liabilities will skyrocket? Pensions must disappear (where do pensions come from?).

Murrell Seldon is an Oak Park resident.

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