The bean in our eye

By Joe Schembrie
web posted January 3, 2000

Gary Bauer, bottom-feeding in the polls for the GOP presidential nomination, has attacked a Vermont state supreme court ruling that recognizes homosexual marriages. Though no bombs exploded nor were bullets fired, he has labeled this legal action to be 'terrorism' against traditional family values.

If Bauer is in the presidential race solely for publicity, he's succeeded. But has his inflammatory rhetoric contributed to the advancement of the social conservative cause? Late-night talk show comedians have already spun his words into images of self-righteous religious right-wingers dispatching the Sexual Gestapo to round up homosexual married couples. Bauer's statement isn't resonating with the Great American Middle, whose votes are critical for social conservative victory.

Speaking as a social conservative (and a Christian), I know when I'm being pandered to. For the true social conservative response to homosexual marriages lies not with extremist terminology -- but with libertarian economics.

To understand that, we need only follow the money.

For the United States, it all started generations ago, when the government exceeded its traditional roles of policeman and soldier and decided that it would play nanny too, by offering to the citizenry such benefits as a publicly-administered pension. One of Social Security's earliest rules recognized that a person had a claim to benefits earned over a lifetime by a spouse. The rule was made in recognition of the traditional family structure, to provide pension payments in the situation of a widowed wife who supported her husband throughout his working career yet hadn't directly contributed into the Social Security system.

Eventually, the government came to require private companies to provide pension and medical insurance benefits for their full-time employees. Again, in the name of protecting the traditional family structure, pensions were made transferrable to spouses, and spouses were automatically beneficiaries of medical insurance packages at no extra cost to the employee.

The legislators who wrote and voted for these laws undoubtedly thought in terms of traditional marriage, and even stereotypically pictured the family with a working husband and dependent wife. Nonetheless, they created a huge pool of government-mandated benefits accruing to anyone who could get herself/himself identified as a 'spouse.'

And God knows, homosexuals today could certainly use that money.

Homosexuality is an extremely unhealthy practice. The average life expectancy of a homosexual male is only forty-one years -- three and a half decades less than that of heterosexual males. The AIDS epidemic, which infects fifty percent of the homosexual population in the United States, and carries an average treatment cost of thousands of dollars annually, has made matters even more critical. Homosexuals desperately need huge infusions of medical treatment -- and they want someone else to pay the bill.

Follow the money: (1) have homosexual marriages officially recognized by government, (2) 'marry' sick homosexuals to healthy homosexuals with better jobs and benefits, (3) extend those benefits to the sick. Then all the legislation that was written to protect and strengthen traditional marriages will cause money to flow toward homosexuals instead. It's the Law of Unintended Consequences in full blossom.

It's not the sex, it's the money. Most homosexuals have multitudes of sexual partners a year, and stable, monogamous relationships have always been a rarity among homosexuals. If it wasn't for the money involved, there might be little activism in favor of homosexual marriage even today.

So isn't the libertarian economics solution also the best social conservative solution? That is: get the money out of the system!

If Social Security were privatized, workers would have individual pension accounts with assets that could be legally transferred by private contract rather than the stroke of a politician's pen. If federal requirements for corporate employee benefits were eliminated, market forces would raise salaries to compensate -- and employees could invest the money into pension and medical plans of their own choice. Costs would be scaled to number of recipients rather than sexual relationship.

Thus deprived of the economic incentive of billions of dollars in government-mandated income transfer, the push for homosexual marriage would probably lose much of its political steam.

The conflict over legally recognizing homosexual marriage is just one more example of how Big Government inevitably erodes traditional values -- a lesson social conservatives should have learned long ago from public schools and welfare. Big Government transfers wealth from those who earned it to those who did not; that's stealing, there's a commandment forbidding it, and good Christians, if they are consistent, should condemn it as contributing to society's moral decline.

Nonetheless, religious right candidates Gary Bauer and Pat Buchanan heartily support protectionist policies and 'pro-worker' legislation that will use government force to benefit blue collar workers at the expense of the rest of us.

It will then be up to future legal semanticists to pervert those measures as well.

Joe Schembrie is a contributor to Enter Stage Right.

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