I posted last week about the state of my relationship with Mark: we're partners. Since then, I've been thinking a bit more about marriage, and specifically about not being married. Why? Because it keeps coming up.
Not being married is costing me money. And if you're not married, it may well be costing you, too.
Mark's new job comes with really excellent insurance benefits. His employer not only pays 100% for employees, they pay 100% for spouses, same-sex domestic partners, and children of employees as well. So if we were married, I could get free insurance through Mark's job. If we were same-sex domestic partners, I could do the same. As opposite-sex domestic partners, though, this benefit is not available to me. It's not a huge tragedy, for us, since I have coverage through my job. However, that coverage costs me $300/month, or $3,600/year. That's what not being married is costing me.
Another area is taxes. You hear a lot about the "marriage penalty" when it comes to taxation. However, that only applies to folks who don't have a big discrepancy between their incomes. Mark and I do. Last year, our combined (single) tax burden was $8,280. Had we made the exact same money, but been married and filed jointly, it would have been $7,110. Not being married cost us $1,170.
Next, we come to the process we went through trying to find a house to rent. Applications fees on a couple of houses we looked at were $75 per individual or married couple. So, we had to pay $150. A $75 not-married penalty.
Then there's our annual co-op membership. If we were a "family," we'd pay $60. Since we're not, it's $45 each. $30 more for the unmarrieds.
I could go on, but I think I've made my point.
For me, this is an annoyance. It irritates me, and I don't think it's fair, but my life goes on. If it was a huge issue, I could give in and get married. Nobody would stand in my way. But what about people who couldn't just tie the knot? In this case, the largest part of the financial outlay (the health insurance) would be extended to same-sex domestic partners, but in many similar cases it wouldn't, and they'd have no recourse. I may not like the choices I have, but at least I have them.
And so it is a matter of deciding what to do with them. In dollars, what are my principles worth? Knowing that my not being married isn't actually helping anybody, and that the stand I am taking exists mainly in my own head, is it worth doing something I feel is wrong to save some money? How much money does it need to be to make it worth it?