The Realities of Economic Discrimination

A recent New York Times article provides ample evidence of the widespread financial costs of the federal (and in 38 states, the state) non-recognition of same-sex relationships.  There has been far too little substantive research into this aspect of discrimination, and so these stories are very useful in telling our stories to a broader audience.  I am deeply appreciative of the excellent work of these reporters, and I hope this article will stimulate similar investigations and reports.

The intersection of the legal, financial, and emotional ramifications of discrimination is a very complex landscape. Consider, for example, the simple detail of transfer taxes triggered by adding your partner to the title of your residence, which can have myriad negative consequences: it’s not just the immediate tax (which can be as high as $5,000 in some locations), it’s how it may discourage you from filing the new deed — which then can cost your partner as much as $75,000 in capital gains taxes when you later sell the house. This sort of complication can also leave a couple with conflicts over who really owns the house if there is a break-up, resulting in legal fees and added strain emotionally. Layered on top of these details is the understandable resentment over the discriminatory laws, which can have untold negative consequences on the parties.

The same goes for less quantifiable arenas such as our immigration laws. Not being able to sponsor one’s spouse for immigration can result in legal fees, travel costs, and in many instances, relocation to another country with a severe loss of career opportunities. The emotional consequences can be devastating as well, and it is nearly impossible to monetize those ramifications.

Revealing these details is an essential component of telling our story — and hopefully, such stories will help build a stronger foundation for the arguments in support of full marriage equality for same-sex couples.

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