Last April, the Iowa Supreme Court “legalized gay marriage…in a unanimous and emphatic decision” that made it the first “state in the nation’s heartland” to expand marriage rights to gays and lesbians. Since the court’s decision, conservatives have mobilized to place a constitutional amendment on the Iowa ballot for 2010 that would define marriage as between a man and a woman, effectively banning same-sex marriage in the state. The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) is leading these efforts with its Reclaim Iowa Project.
Yesterday, NOM held a rally at the state house in Des Moines, Iowa. Reporting from the event, the Iowa Independent caught a bizarre new justification being promulgated for opposing gay marriage. Tamara Scott, the state director for the conservative Concerned Women of America, told the NOM rally crowd that “part of the country’s current economic downturn was to blame on the social costs of the threatened traditional family unit through the legalization of gay marriage”:
“It costs you, the taxpayer, as high as $280 billion a year for fragmented families, according to the Family Research Council,” Scott told the crowd, citing a study from the D.C.-based Christian political association from May 2009.
“If we would correct the breakdown of the family by 1 percent, we could save the taxpayer $3 billion a year,” she said. “An easy fix and a better fix long term for our children… When the family is healthy, the community benefits. When the family is hurting, society will pay the cost one way or another. We can fix this economic downturn very easily by fixing some hearts.”
While there is a fair argument to be made that broken families have significant social and economist costs to society, there is no emperical evidence that proves that expanding same-sex marriage rights in any way hurts straight marriages or families. In Iowa, the marriage rate has gone up and the divorce rate has actually gone down since gay marriage was made legal. Additionally, a 2008 study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law “estimated that same-sex weddings and related tourism would bring $160 million to the state of Iowa through 2011, and an extra $5.3 million per year in tax revenue.”