Friday | July 22, 2016
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Letters 10-30-13

It can’t be equal if it is not equal

The premise of the debate on Hawaii’s proposed marriage equality act, is that the same benefits afforded married couples (male and female) should also be given to close friends regardless of gender, including the right to marry. Before we jump the gun we may want to determine why married couples get any benefits.

The marriage benefits were not about morals or equal rights. They weren’t even about love. The federal and state allowances given to married couples were given to recognize that they contribute to society in a way that even the closest of friends of the same gender could not. Married couples were and still remain the source of the future work force. The benefit they received provided relief for married couples because of their long-term and unique contribution to the future of our society.

Can we afford the change? According to the American Community Survey there are about 60.3 million married couples in the U.S. There are 120.6 million people receiving federal and state benefits based upon marital status alone. By adding the relationship of same gender friends to this benefits role, an approximate 12.7 million individuals could receive benefit with no potential to provide the contribution to society of married couples. How do we pay for that benefit? Why should taxpayers pay since there is no economic or social benefit to society? In a cost-benefit analysis, this discussion adds to the cost without adding to the benefit. It is another pay without work scenario.

Legislators are charged to make decisions that help resolve problems. This decision has the potential to create a situation that not only expresses a devaluation of the contribution of marriages but increases the cost to the taxpayer in program maintenance. Though there are moral grounds to object to this legislation, it is unlikely the political climate will allow a judgment based upon morality.

This is not just a moral issue it is an economic and social issue as well. Economically, it will increase the cost to taxpayers over the long term or systematically reduce the benefit to married couples to compensate for increased demand without benefit. Socially, the redefinition of marriage by legislation brings additional pressure to attempt to normalize the decision through the public education system. In Hawaii, keeping good teachers has always been a challenge simply by the ever-changing curriculum and or approach to teaching. Now teachers will be mandated to justify a legislative decision even if they are morally conflicted. This decision has long lasting implications.

In all fairness it is not right to not force the people of Hawaii to compromise long-standing values that make Hawaii a great place to live for political point. Hawaii has many laws designed to maintain a natural balance because of the nature of island living. What about the social ecosystem that exists? Should we care less about it? Living among different types of people is not new to the people of Hawaii but to be forced to accept a state-mandated value set is tyranny against the people who believed in and voted for the current Legislature.

Marriage is more than a piece of paper or contract. Marriage is the economic and social foundation for Hawaii. This is not an equal rights issue for the contribution that close friends make on society can never be equal to contributions that traditional marriages have and continue to make on society. It can’t be equal if it is not equal.

Kevin T. Brown