Culture / News & Politics

The High Cost of Being a Gay Family

It’s official: It costs more to be a gay or lesbian family than it costs to be a heterosexual family.

For most of the LGBT community, this is not exactly a news flash. In fact, it comes close to the “studies say drunk driving causes motor vehicle accidents” or “studies say losing weight requires exercising more and eating less” school of research.

Even so, mainstream media validation of our experiences is nice.

And it doesn’t get much more official or mainstream than the New York Times. And on Friday, the NYT Money folks wrote a thoroughly researched article concluding that for middle/upper-middle class families with 2 children, the out of pocket costs of being a lesbian family (yes, they used lesbians as their example!) is between $41k-$467k greater than those of a similarly situated married heterosexual family.

That’s right. An lesbian couple who are exceptionally financially unlucky could spend almost half a million dollars more, between ages 35-85, than a similarly situated heterosexual couple.

Details on the assumptions used by the reporters, and how those variables might change, are also provided by the NYT Money reporters.

Many of us have reported less exhaustive, more back-of-the-napkin estimates on the costs too. I wrote one about the cost of fertility treatment, and another on the tax impact being a lesbian family had on me in 2006.

Now, it is true that every dollar in that $41-467k would not instantly disappear if same sex marriage were recognized by every state and the federal government. The fertility treatment costs are independent of marriage. But legal recognition of our marriages would make a HUGE difference towards equalizing our financial footing.

Incidentally, I’m not anti-tax. I want to be clear about that. I think paying our fair share of taxes is a critical aspect of living in a democracy. I want to pay my fair share towards schools and roads and public safety and elections and national security and research and health care and the myriad of other services the government does and should provide.

The key word here is fair. Similarly situated families should pay similar taxes. My family shouldn’t have to pay almost half a million dollars more in lifetime taxes than, for example, my sister’s family.

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