by Chris Bodenner
A reader writes:
My boyfriend and I did exactly that last year. We've been together for 10 years, cohabitating for 6 and just bought a house. We ran the numbers and found that it would benefit us financially to get married. The tax break was the sole reason we did it. We will continue to run the numbers each year and if it becomes financially beneficial for us to get a divorce we will do so.
I assume the family values folks would view our marriage as valid even though it meant no more to us than any other financial decision. It had all the solemnity and emotion of opening a savings account. Still, we're straight and I guess that's all that matters.
A female reader writes:
It's callous, but that's exactly what my (male) partner and I did - we went to City Hall and signed a piece of paper so that I could be covered by his health insurance and we could enjoy a nice tax break. And I did it because, frankly, the shine was already off of the institution for marriage for me. Before my current partner, I had only dated women.
I had never imagined that I would fall in love with a man, but there I was. Although I'm glad that the people in my life are happy for me, I was appalled that some family and friends were taking this new relationship far more seriously than they had the several-year relationship with my previous partner, a woman. The beginnings of hetero-normative privilege were strange and painful.
When I started my new job last year and realized how expensive and crappy my new health insurance was, we tried to explore the domestic partner benefit with his employer. Happily, they do support same-sex domestic partners, but straight folks like us had to be married to qualify.
So why not? We're not married in the eyes of our parents, or my religious community, or anyone who matters to us. But we do get to enjoy privileges of protection that everyone should be enjoying. I'm happy to exploit it while I can and work for the situation to be better for everyone.
While the tax ramifications didn't determine if I got married, they definitely determined when I got married.
My wife and I decided to get married in late 1995. A quick run through the estimated tax ramifications showed that getting married in 1995 would have cost us $4,000-$5,000 in additional taxes as we are both full time professional employees with above average wages.
We were married on January 1, 1996.