A Brief Note on Politics

My parents have been Republicans since, oh sometime around the Kennedy era. Before I was born. This is sometimes a source of friction between us; for the most part it is best if we just don’t discuss politics at all.

The thing is, they aren’t at all religious. They dislike the “religious right.” They claim to be pro-gay, and pro-choice[1], and I think they are sincere in those beliefs. They have just always believed that they will be better off financially under the Republicans — their taxes will somehow be lower, and so on. “Voting by their pocketbook” is one way of putting it.

They ignore the religious right wing of their party — a wing that has gotten louder and louder over the years. On rare occasions when we do discuss politics, they seem to regard me as a “single-issue” voter because I can’t ignore the Republican party’s anti-gay stance.

In an attempt to speak their language, I have occasionally attempted to explain that voting against the anti-gay policies is, in fact, voting according to my pocketbook since these policies, aside from being unjust, do have an actual financial impact on my life. I don’t think I’ve ever managed to make them see that.

Today I came across this article that lays it out.

Gay people pay higher taxes. One candidate wants to keep it that way and one has taken steps – and is encouraging more – that will make your wallet feel the impact of government on a more equal setting. It all comes down to DOMA.

Barack Obama believes that same-sex couples should be allowed access to marriage and Mitt Romney believes that they should not. And while these beliefs have not historically had much real consequence, in 2012 they do. It’s not just opinion, it’s not just position, it’s money in your pocket.

And then he describes five ways the lack of marriage costs gay people more, mostly as a result of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Many of these issues mostly apply to people in places where same-sex marriage is legal (alas, not Montana), but I have been hit with this one:

Gay Tax – This one is the most obscene of all tax differences and, for unfathomable reasons, it is the one that no politicians of either party seem willing to address. If your brother covers his wife on his health insurance policy at work, it is a non-taxable benefit. If you, however, cover your wife (or domestic partner) on your health insurance policy at work, the IRS requires your boss to report the amount as income to you and they tax it. This can mean hundreds of dollars a year paid in taxes, just for being gay.

(As many employers in non-marriage states now honor domestic partnerships, this is not exactly a DOMA issue. Even if DOMA is overturned, many gay employees will remain subject to the Gay Tax.)

Read the whole thing for all the facts and figures and details. The final paragraph sums it up:

So while there could be a legitimate argument that our civil rights are a more important consideration than our pocketbook, I don’t think that in this election they are in competition. It is because of our civil freedoms and equalities and also because of our pocketbooks that I endorse Barack Obama for reelection on Tuesday.

I couldn’t agree more.

  1. Despite the fact that my mom really admires the Bush family (don’t ask, I don’t know why), she actually did write a letter to the first President Bush explaining that she disagreed with his pro-life stance because she was the parent of two daughters. But that was a very long time ago; as far as I know, she never sent any letters to the second President Bush.