Alex Blaze

I don't agree with that Suze Orman video everyone loves!

Filed By Alex Blaze | February 16, 2009 4:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Entertainment, Marriage Equality, The Movement
Tags: finance industry, France, LGBT, marriage, New Jersey, pacs, roommates, straight, suze orman, tax

Can we admit, as LGBT people, that this makes no sense?

In my opinion it is such a travesty that, a few months ago, Proposition 8, in California, passed. Proposition 2, in Florida, passed. What is that about, everybody? We are taking away a birthright, if you ask me, for people to get the most out of the money that they have spent their lives working. Those people are making money. They pay taxes on the money. Every single one of us deserves to have the same financial benefits whether we are gay or whether we are straight.

That's part of the Suze Orman commentary that's making its way around the LGBT blogosphere. So, um, how is a tax break a "birthright"? Why do married people deserve to pay fewer taxes than the rest of us? Why do married couples with children need a tax break to make ends meet while unmarried couples and single people with children don't?

Just a few of the obvious questions that spring out to me when reading what Orman had to say. I'll admit I have a natural aversion to people linking a tax cut with a "birthright" - it sounds far too much like the language used by the extreme right to try to get rid of the estate tax, a way of making another tax break for the extremely wealthy seem fair. Linking the two almost makes it seem as if a tax break for married couples is somehow just supposed to be a means of creating dynasties and keeping the wealth within a small sector of society....

I honestly don't think the LGBT community does well with trying to sell opening up marriage to same-sex couples by making it seem like we want a package of rights. Frankly, most straight people don't see marriage as a package of rights. They see it as a cultural institution. And we should be arguing it on that level as well instead of just or even mostly on the "fairness," "equality," and "rights" level.

Also too I don't think we do well to entrench the assumption that married people are somehow deserving of paying fewer taxes than everyone else, as if they're somehow better than the rest of us. They don't deserve a tax break for being married, whether they're a part of a same-sex couple or an opposite-sex couple. There are many things that should lower one's tax bill (spending habits, donations to charity, need), but one's sex life, no matter how exciting, and relationship status, no matter how boring, aren't among them.

It's something that even France's conservative president could see here in France (PACS are French civil unions, open to straight couples, gay couples, and non-sexual couples, like caregivers or roommates):

Perhaps more important as an indication of how French people live, the number of heterosexual men and women entering into a PACS agreement has grown from 42 percent of the total initially to 92 percent last year.

That was not what conservative opponents of the measure foresaw in 1999. They viewed it as an encouragement of homosexuality and organized rallies to denounce the Socialists for undermining morality in France. Christine Boutin, housing minister under conservative President Nicolas Sarkozy, was among the most vociferous critics and still complains that the PACS harms society by serving as a substitute for marriage.[...]

Nadine Morano, Sarkozy's minister of state for family affairs, recalled in the Journal du Dimanche newspaper recently that it was Sarkozy who, as finance minister, revised French tax laws to extend marriagelike deductions to PACSed couples.

Can you imagine national civil unions for both gay and straight people in the US with the same tax benefits as marriage? Some French moralizers think it's destroying the family out here, but in the US their screams would be deafening.

Here's the rest of Orman's commentary:

And therefore, we have got to do everything we can to turn that around. Every single one of us deserves to be loved. Every single one of us deserves to love. And every single one of us deserves to make the most of the money that we have. That's my Valentine's Day wish for every single one of us.

Thank you very much, Ms. Orman, but I can love and be loved just fine without a marriage. And every single one of us, married and unmarried, deserves to make the most of the money we have.

Oh, well. The assumptions (that marriage is something that everyone does, even if they don't, and that being married means children while not being married means no children, even though that equation no longer holds up for even a majority of Americans) aren't going to die without me.

Here's the video of Suze Orman's comment.


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Thanks for this, Alex! That was one intervention that sure needed making.

Great post Alex. I appreciate Suze's sentiments, but she her logic seemed off to me too. I think you hit on every point that I had a quarrel with in her statement as well. Thanks!

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | February 17, 2009 7:06 AM

A birthright all Americans share is our portion of the national debt. The interest service on which this year will be over 500 billion. There used to be an outcry over the "marriage penalty" in which such persons who are married actually paid more taxes than those filing individually.

I think the real answer is to eliminate joint filing of taxes eliminating any advantage or disadvantage. Everyone files individually on their actual income. End or minimize child deductions as they do not pay the cost of rearing a child anyway.
It is quite inequitable to childless or one child families (of whatever composition) that they under right those who have large families.

Interesting perspective Alex.

Dear Alex,
Fascinating perspective - you are absolutely right - prior to the marriage debate, no one thought of marriage as a package of rights. However, now that we are paying attention, it seems that we SHOULD be thinking of it in this way - as a package of benefits, because as a business contract (essentially) that is exactly what marriage is right now, in its essential truth and reality. I'm of the belief that, if married people get better tax deductions than single people, then we all need to have the right by law to marry. However, if they don't want to extend that right to LGBT people, they should also discontinue the tax benefits and financial benefits of marriage that Suze is speaking of. This of course is a very limited view, as we are not talking about the very important rights of inheritance and nextofkin relationship that is conferred by marriage, which everyone should enjoy by law.

Suze presented same-sex benefits from the benefits angle, but in fact the Federal revenue would benefit from same-sex marriage. One billion in three years, not much but adding dollars not sucking the economy dry. Several weeks ago she was telling people to buy stock that it was the bottom. She changed her tune after the market dropped 1,000 points since then.

Here is the telling report from The Congressional Budget office that was ordered by Ohio's homobigot Congressman. He kept it quiet, but it's recorded. Suze needs to be educated. Very interesting.

http://www.cbo.gov/doc.cfm?index=5559&type=0

Alex,
I think you're missing the point. Suze Orman provides consumer advice on money and saving money. So, the segment that she tapes has to have a money-related theme, otherwise it would not be relevant to her show.
I think it's great that she presented a different angle on the whole gay marriage issue. I'm sure that she realizes that there are MANY reasons that gay marriage should be allowed - she just presented the "practical" view of fairness: if straight people can benefit financially from getting married, then gay people deserve that right, too.
I think her "fairness" point would have alienated straight people and sounded petty if she had simply said - "Why do straight married people get tax breaks and unmarried gay people don't? Let's eliminate the tax breaks for straight people."