Cantor Calls Marriage Great For Fighting Poverty, Would Still Prevent Same-Sex Couples From Marrying

In a speech today at the Family Research Council’s Value Voters Summit, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) assailed virtually every one of President Obama’s policies. He then offered a staunch defense of the economic benefits of marriage, saying, “Marriage has lifted more people out of poverty than any government program ever”:

We all know, as do most Americans in their hearts know, that the way for us to allow the pursuit of happiness is through individual effort. It is not through government program. And that is why we believe in traditional marriage, because marriage, more than any government program ever has or ever will, has lifted up people out of poverty, even those who felt there was no hope. Marriage has proven to be that formula which has been more successful at allowing for that pursuit of happiness. And that is why we stand tall and stand proud for traditional marriage.

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For starters, as the Economic Policy Institute noted, when it comes to poverty, “the problem is a jobs and employment problem, not a marriage problem, as some commentators have suggested.” But this particular line of reasoning is interesting coming from Cantor, who has such a well-documented history of standing against same-sex marriage, despite its economic benefits.

When Washington state legalized same-sex marriage, conservative estimates of its potential economic effect were that it would add $88 million to the state and local economies in just three years and an additional $8 million in tax revenue. Even more impressive, New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg announced in July 2012 that same-sex marriage generated $259 million for the NYC economy in just one year.

Despite undeniable economic benefits, Cantor consistently acts against same-sex marriage, voting in favor of amending the Constitution to ban same-sex marriage and also to define marriage as an institution between one man and one woman. The Human Rights Campaign gives him a 0 percent rating on support for gay rights.

— Greg Noth