Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Gay Marriage: An Economist's Perspective

I'm not an economist, but I like to listen to economists.  They are usually pretty smart.

Today Obama stated that he supports gay marriage.  I support his decision to not take away rights from any individual in this country.  (I'm not going to discuss whether this was the right political decision, as I'm not a political scientist.)

This issue is clearly a wedge issue that divides many Americans.  However, there is an interesting solution from the economists Thaler and Sunstein, who wrote the bestseller book, Nudge:

"Under our approach, the only legal status states would confer on couples would be a civil union, which would be a domestic partnership agreement between any two people.  Marriages would be strictly private matters, performed by religious and other private organizations.  Within broad limits, marriage-granting organizations would be free to choose whatever rules they like for a marriage conducted under their auspices. ....  Instead of channeling every partnership into the same one-size-fits-all arrangement of state marriage, couples could choose the marriage-granting organization that best suits their needs and desires.  Government would not be asked to endorse any particular relationships by conferring on them the term marriage."

There's a solution that should not be as divisive.  Make marriage a private institution, while the government support equality by granting civil unions.  
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