Over a lifetime, unmarried women can pay as much as a million dollars more than their married counterparts for healthcare, taxes, and more.
In October 2009, New York Times reporters Tara Siegel Bernard and Ron Lieber compared a hypothetical married couple with an equivalent-earning unmarried gay couple, to see just how much difference those extra privileges made. Here's what they found:
In our worst case, the couple's lifetime cost of being gay was $467,562. But the number fell to $41,196 in the best case for a couple with significantly better health insurance, plus lower taxes and other costs.
This is unfair. The solution? Bernard and Lieber argue that "the federal government [should legalize] same-sex marriage." But in fact, legalizing gay marriage only solves the problem for a few. Many more single people (gay and straight)—more than half of the population—continue to suffer from institutionalized singlism, the discrimination of individuals based on marital status.
U.S. Federal Code Title 5 Part III says: The President may prescribe rules which shall prohibit... discrimination because of marital status. Yet more than 1,000 laws provide overt legal or financial benefits to married couples. Marital privileging marginalizes the 50 percent of Americans who are single. The U.S. government is the main perpetrator, but private companies follow its lead. Thus marital privilege pervades nearly every facet of our lives. Insurance policies—ranging from health, to life, to home, to car—cost more, on average, for unmarried people compared to those who are married. It is not a federal crime for landlords to discriminate against potential renters based on their marital status. And so on.