My brother just moved in with his girlfriend, a student at a culinary academy. The state they live in allows my brother to add his girlfriend to his health insurance as a cohabiting dependent, which is really good because the company he works for has great benefits and her lousy insurance costs a fortune. Now, there's a big drawback... since they are not married, the health insurance benefits that are paid for her to my brother are considered his taxable income. Essentially, he's gonna get dinged on his paycheck. The good news is that there's a solution... that extra withholding for that (her insurance benefits) is magically erased if they decide to get married, because tax law allows for tax free benefits to married couples.
So, the vast majority of gay couples in the same situation as my brother and his lovely girlfriend do not have this option, beacuse (this just in)... they can't get married in 49 of 50 states. This is not a hypothetical example... take a look at this Washington Post article. Basically, it's a gay tax. Now, I'm not inherently opposed to taxation, but it should be fairly implemented. The gay tax is not.
My brother and his girlfriend can choose to avoid this... they can get married. Since it's a choice that is available to them (unlike gay couples), I'm not up in arms over the higher taxes he will pay. This, despite the fact that my brother's lower paycheck will probably translate into a much lousier birthday gift for me. Did I think that or type that?
This brings us back to Oregon's continuing debate over SB1000. If passed, the state would grant rights within a civil union to same-sex couples that are similar to marriage. I'm skeptical whether the grant of civil union rights would solve the federal tax law problem I've described (state vs. federal law). However, if the IRS does consider civil unions the same as marriage in this context, chalk it up as yet another reason for Oregonians to support SB1000. In the interim, I'm just happy to join the ranks of anti-tax crusaders... down with the gay tax!