We need a marriage tax. But first, a story.
So there I was, heading to my favorite local filling station/mechanic. I normally drop in to visit and shoot the breeze when time permits. After the usual banter, we quickly began discussing politics, because that’s what you do when you’re in a local mechanic shop. I mentioned the passage of Amendment One, and my complete abhorrence of it. One of the fellas quickly responded, “Oh, the gay marriage amendment?”
As one who fought against its passage it would have been fair to explode into a rage. However, I did not. I responded, “It was about more than homosexuality.”
I proceeded to describe to him its far-reaching ramifications such as: loss of domestic violence protection for those the unmarried, or loss of healthcare coverage for children under their unmarried parent. I continued expounding on the role religion played in its passage. I continued. And I continued.
When I finished, nearly out of breath, he simply responded, “Well, I think gays should marry. But, if I’d known all that stuff I would have voted against it. I didn’t know enough about it to vote for or against it. I just didn’t vote.”
I wondered how many more folks like him were out there. Surveys showed that when people know the implications of the Amendment they were more likely to vote against it. Did we start working against this too late? Asking those questions are “what-ifs” that won’t repeal the law.
But, if we start telling the stories of families torn apart, businesses leaving, and young graduates moving elsewhere for employment perhaps minds will change. In the future, if we begin mobilizing the moment the abusive legislation is proposed we might have a better chance. We can learn from this, but that’s hardly a consolation prize.
In the end, Amendment One ironically devalues the institution of marriage. It has become a legislative pawn used to limit the rights of others. Marriage is no longer sacred. Maybe we should make it like registering your car—every year you pay to renew the tags. We could increase revenue? Or, perhaps we could make it like property tax—how much combined income do you make, and tax it.
Yes, it sounds ridiculous, it’s supposed to. But if marriage is another forced hoop one must jump through, then why not tax it? Why not tax it like a house or building? After all, it has officially been commodified; let’s generate some tax revenue. Perhaps we can be creatively maladjusted and create legislation that deconstructs this very Amendment. As Martin Luther King Jr. said, “The habits, if not the hearts, of people have been and are being altered every day by legislative acts, judicial decisions, and executive orders.”
Amendment One’s passage is horrible, but let our shoulders not slump in disappointment. Change will not wait. It’s time.