Bryan Caplan  

Will Gay Marriage Lead to the Privatization of Marriage?

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Jason Sorens hails an historic bill to privatize marriage in New Hampshire:

To my knowledge, HB 569 is the first bill ever drafted and introduced in a legislature that would abolish government marriage licensing. The bill is the brainchild of libertarian Republican members of the New Hampshire state house. Currently, New Hampshire has same-sex marriage, but with the current Republican supermajority in both houses of the legislature, that policy is in serious jeopardy.

[...]

...Democrats are insisting that the bill "abolishes marriage," because it calls two-person unions "domestic unions" in the statutes. But since when did people define their marriage according to statute anyway?

All this suggests an unintended but virtuous spiral of liberty.  Step 1: The law recognizes the right of gays to marry.  Step 2: Rancorous culture war.  Step 3: America privatizes marriage out of sheer exhaustion.

I'm hardly willing to bet on this scenario at even odds, but should I take 10:1 by 2030?


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COMMENTS (5 to date)
Tracy W writes:

How does this fit in with the tax system?
In NZ, tax is paid on a purely individual basis - there's no marriage deduction - but the IRD does treat some arrangements differently depending on whether they're between two unrelated people or two related people, including marriage. (Eg gift duty isn't owed on transfers between spouses, but if you hire your spouse as a secretary at your company at a large premium over the going market rate, IRD will assume that the reason is not that your secretary is a really good negotiator).

Hume writes:

I'm hardly willing to bet on this scenario at even odds, but should I take 10:1 by 2030?

No.

Floccina writes:

All this marriage stuff brings up questions of spousal and survivor benefits.

Dave writes:

This is my prefered solution. I am pro gay marriage rights, my wife is slightly opposed. Her stance is religous based. My thinking is if the defenders of the sanctity of marriage are largely citing religion, than the obvious solution is to eliminate the term from the government lexicon, and let the culture decide amongst themselves. The unitarians will marry everyone. The catholics and southern baptists won't. For gov't purposes they don't have to participate in the dumb debate any more.

In regard to taxes - in the US five(?) states recognize gay marriage, but federal law indicates that they won't. So they married gay people may get some benefits filing joint in the states, but for federal purposes they cannot file that way. In the US, federally you may get some slight benefits filing joint or be neutral under current law (in the past, and in 2013 if legislation expires dual income folks could get hit a bit worse depending on income levels if they married).

Tracy W writes:

Dave - the treatment of marriage under tax is more complex than whether the couple files joint or not. As I stated, in NZ you file and pay tax individually regardless of your marital status, but the NZ Inland Revenue Department presumes that transfers between family members are different to transfers between unrelated people.

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