Sunday, March 14, 2004


Bill Quick responded to Steven Den Beste in an exchange on California's gay marriage rulings, and generated an interesting response thread. One of the commenters argues that allowing consenting adults to marry will create a firestorm of people marrying for no other reason than the tax benefits. This is pure speculation, and I think I can point out the flaw in the reasoning. It's this: Similar discrimination already exists, and it has not generated a flood of faux marriages.

Under the military pay system, two people of equal paygrade, working at the same duty station, will receive different housing allowances if one is married (or has children). In lower cost locations, the difference is not that large, but as one moves to more expensive areas, the difference can become quite significant. I will use San Diego (my last duty station) as an example. As a single E-6, my housing allowance (the 2004 figure) would be $1153/month. If I was married (or had dependents—more on that in a moment) the figure would be $1700/month, a difference of over $6500/year. Is this discrimination? Under the law (and under the military's pay structure), it is not. However, it is discriminatory. Equal work=equal pay, but it's not so.

Why, then, are there so many single servicemembers? Everyone should be married, right? Well, a majority of Americans (and by extension, servicemembers) appear to have at least some respect for the institution of marriage, and expanding that right to include gay couples is not likely to damage it significantly. (Obviously, this does not extend to the military example I cited, due to the proscription on openly gay soldiers, sailors, airmen, and marines.) If everyone were in it just for the money, then there would be all sorts of "open" marriages and the like, something that I have not seen in significant numbers among my military colleagues.

I need to explain the military's concept of "dependents" is a bit different than that used by the IRS. A dependent is any relative who is not in the military who is married to or receives significant financial support from a servicemember. If I were to marry a woman who makes $300,000/year, under military rules she would still be considered a "dependent", even though she makes far more than I ever will in the military. This also extends to children (whether or not they live with the member); the finances of the other parent of the children are irrelevant.

Read the whole thread at Daily Pundit; there are a number of thoughtful comments on the subject.

posted at 08:45 AM | permalink | Comments (3)

If you read craigslist, you'll see posts a couple times a month of girls looking to "marry" a guy. I think it's usually the same girl, and I think she mostly wants the ID card. I'm not even sure she wants to live with the guy after the fact, since the implication is that he gets to keep all the money.

posted by Kevin on March 14, 2004 09:53 AM

There is, in fact, quite a bit of scam "marrying" going on to get around the whole set of INS immigration rules. The INS is painfully aware of it, has a rigorous examination especially targeted on immigration marriage scams. Nonetheless, thousands successfully get away with them.

posted by Bill Quick on March 14, 2004 11:39 AM

While I agree it isn't entirely fair, it isn't supposed to be pay for work, but pay to make your house payment back home...right?

A house payment in SanDiego is very different than a house payment in Omaha. An 1500 Square foot ranch in Omaha would go for around $100K (give or take.)
A wife who makes a great deal of money more than the husband is a possibility of course, but I would have to stick my neck out and say it's probably not the norm.

posted by Mr Bob (the Navy Guy) on March 16, 2004 01:35 PM

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