Debunking The ‘Marriage Equality Costs Too Much’ Myth

At this morning’s Senate Judiciary Committee hearing, Republicans argued that extending federal benefits to same-sex couples would increase spending during a period of large federal deficits and economic turmoil and urged Democrats to refocus their priorities on jobs and the economy. “Social security is beginning to run a deficit,” Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) warned just moments before the Committee repealed DOMA and approved the Respect for Marriage Act. “Your bill would erode the fiscal soundness of Social Security,” Grassley charged. “Increasing the number of survivor and other benefit recipients would impose new costs on Social Security.”

Committee Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-VT) responded that same-sex couples paid into the program in the same way that opposite-sex coupled had and argued that it would be unfair to deny them an equal benefit. “Fair is fair, they paid. It should be allowed,” he said. “I think if you’re paying the taxes, you’re fulfilling the obligations, you ought to get the same benefits as anybody else.” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), the lead sponsor of the legislation to eliminate DOMA, added that the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that “on net, those impacts would improve the budget’s bottom line to a small extent.” From the 2004 report:

In some cases, recognizing same-sex marriages would increase outlays and revenues; in other cases, it would have the opposite effect. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that on net, those impacts would improve the budget’s bottom line to a small extent: by less than $1 billion in each of the next 10 years (CBO’s usual estimating period). That result assumes that same-sex marriages are legalized in all 50 states and recognized by the federal government.

Watch the exchange:

The report also found that marriage equality could slightly increase revenue “by less than $400 million a year.” “Those amounts represent less than 0.1 percent of total federal revenues,” it concluded.