Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Prop 8 Trial Coverage Day 6: Lee Badgett - The Costs of Marriage Discrimination

Guest blogger Davina Kotulski of DavinaKotulski.com reports on the Prop 8 trial, day 6.

M.V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and the Research Director of the Williams’ Institute at UCLA. She was called to testify about the private harms caused by Prop. 8 and the impact of same-sex marriage on the marriages of different-sex couples.

Badgett has a BA in economics from the University of Chicago (1982) and a PhD in economics from UC Berkeley (1990). Her book, “Money, Myths, and Change: The Economic Lives of Lesbians and Gay Men” (University of Chicago Press) presents her ground-breaking work on sexual orientation discrimination and family policy. Her new book “When Gay People Get Married” asks whether same-sex marriage will change marriage or change GLB people, drawing on the U.S. and European experiences with same-sex marriage.

Professor Badgett’s Opinions Fall into 4 Categories

1. Prop 8 has inflicted economic harm on same-sex couples residing in California and their children

2. Permitting same-sex couples to marry will not adversely affect heterosexual couples or marriage

3. Same-sex couples are similar to different-sex couples in most economic and demographic characteristics

4. Prop 8 imposed substantial economic losses on California and its counties and municipalities.


-Marriage confers numerous economic benefits many of which are not provided by DPS

-Greater specialization of labor

-Reduced transactions costs

-Additional health and insurance benefits

-Greater economies of scale-marriage pulls two people together, when they move in together they can live together more cheaply as a couple, than as two individuals

-Stronger statement of commitment-the value of the statement of commitment underlie all of these economic benefits. Secondly it is a statement that is recognized and reinforced by people outside the marriage.

-Greater validation and societal acceptance of relationship

-More positive workplace outcomes from reduced discrimination-psych research, gay and lesbian people in workplace facing discrimination have different work experiences and economic gains from the workplace.

-Same-sex couples who are not allowed to marry may feel in their workplace that they are treated differently from heterosexual couples who are allowed to marry, and that being unable to marry may affect their ability to get promotions, raises, etc.

-Some of these costs may not be quantifiable, but they are substantial and are imposed on virtually all California same-sex couples who would marry if they could.

Frank and Joe Capley-Alfano, the first same-sex couple recognized within the Free Masons, are registered domestic partners who were married in 2008. Frank is an elevator mechanic and gets his health insurance benefits from the National Elevator Industry Health Benefits Plan (NEIHBP) through the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) Local 8.

Joe has a degenerative physical condition that requires medical treatment for he will lose the ability to walk. He and Frank petitioned the IUEC beginning in 2004 for medical benefits. Because of DOMA, IUEC does not have to provide a member’s domestic partner or same-sex spouse the health care benefits it provides to opposite-sex spouse.

After six years of petitioning Local 8, who could have simply chosen to begin recognizing state sanctioned same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships, Local 8 agreed to provide Joe and Frank and others same-sex couples married ONLY in California during the 5 month period before Proposition 8 passed access health benefits.

However, because of the fall back on the federal DOMA, they are refusing to recognize marriages performed in other states and California registered domestic partners. A lesbian whose family is affected by this inequality spoke at the vigil on 1-11-10. One partner is having to work a second job to provide for her partner and infant child.


In 2008, the number of same-sex marriages in California far exceeded the number of domestic partnerships: 18,000 marriages and 2,077 domestic partnerships.


Below is the percentage of same-sex couples who entered into these institutions the first year they were legal.

37%=Marriages in the first year that they were allowed to marry
12%=Civil Unions
10%=Domestic Partnerships

In California only 5% of couples registered as domestic partners in the first year (2000).

11:00 AM

Boies asks Badgett about couples who chose not to enter into domestic partnerships and the financial impact on this because of this choice. Badgett says they are numerous financial drawbacks for same-sex couples not to enter into domestic partnerships, but many LGBT people may choose not to because it relegates a second class status and when evaluating “the value” of domestic partnership it is significantly less than marriage.

Badgett also discusses the benefits of same-sex marriage to couples and their children. Counsel submits a document entitled “The Effects of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts,” that reports that “Over 72% of respondents felt more committed to their partners, almost 70% felt more accepted by their communities, and 93% of those raising children in their homes agreed or somewhat agreed that their children were happier and better off as a result of their marriage.”

This shows again that marriage helps stabilize relationships and keeps people together. It’s reminiscent of how the right wing chastises gay people for not being able to stay in long-term relationships and yet wishes to deny gay people access to marriage which supports long-term commitments.


According to Badgett, the state and local governments are losing out on $40 million dollars by denying same-sex couples the right to marry.

According to the Williams Institute’s reports, same-sex marriage would save state governments money on state means-tested public benefits programs. They found that because a single person’s benefits are based on their income alone and a married person’s income is based on the couple’s combined household income, fewer people would be eligible for state benefits, saving the state significant amounts of money.

I have a whole chapter on this in my new book “Love Warriors: The Rise of the Marriage Equality Movement and Why It Will Prevail”-April 2010

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