I weirdly love doing my taxes. Jami’s taxes too, since she is kind enough to let me do them. I think it’s something about the order of it – all those little boxes to fill in, although the fact that we usually get money back (especially since buying the house) certainly doesn’t hurt.
This was my first year to do our taxes since we got married, and so for the first time I got to see the actual financial cost to us for not having our marriage recognized by the Federal government. Because we filed jointly in DC as a married couple, I had to create a “mock” federal return to use as the basis of our District return. Actual cost to us to be “unmarried” in the eyes of Uncle Sam? $869. We would have gotten $869 more back if we had been able to file jointly.
Now the money to me isn’t that big a deal (although I’m sure I could think of lots of good, economy stimulating things to do with the money). We are still getting tax returns this year and I don’t actually mind paying taxes. I think social programs are important and I’m happy to be able to support them. The few extra pennies that Medicaid, and public schools, and the VA, and the NEA, and everyone’s grandparents get because of my tax dollars are money well spent, I think.
I mention this only because it is a concrete example of the difference that marriage (the federally recognized legal institution of marriage) has on one couple. People who oppose marriage equality often ask why same-sex couples want to get “married” any way. Why aren’t civil unions good enough? Why isn’t living together enough? In what way are same-sex couples being harmed by being denied the right to marry?
Generally, the concrete, practical arguments in favor of marriage equality sort of bother me. Not that the issues themselves aren’t important (if your wife is dying and you are not being allowed into her hospital room, that is not a silly issue), but I hate that every discussion of same-sex marriage comes down to hospital visitation and taxes. I resent the fact that I have to justify why I wanted to enter into an institution that opposite-sex couples enter every day without ever thinking about the practical benefits. I am a human being and a citizen, and I believe I have a right to marry the person I love and build a life with them. Period.
But I also believe that the most important thing anyone can do to battle discrimination and homophobia is to come out. When faced with “real” gay people, folks generally become more tolerant and supportive of equal rights. I generally try to avoid the soapbox, but by not mentioning the tangible costs to being denied marriage equality, I worry that I am allowing those opposed to continue with the false assertion that no one is being harmed by the current state of affairs. Marriage inequality cost my wife and I $869. That’s not the end of world and I’m not upset about it, but it’s not nothing either.