I came across this subprime marriage analogy today from J. Max Wilson on Sixteen Small Stones…. It’s spot on!
The Subprime Marriage Analogy
Over and over again I hear supporters of same-sex marriage ask derisively how a same-sex marriage could possibly destroy anyone else’s marriage. More recently they point to Massachusetts, where same-sex marriage has been legal since May 2004, and declare triumphantly that the societal meltdown prophesied by opponents has not materialized.
But as the subprime mortgage crisis demonstrates, in complex systems seemingly small policy changes, and millions of individual decisions, can over a longer time-scale cause disastrous results for even those who were not involved in the bad decisions, even if things look peachy in the interim. Five years ago we might have asked derisively “How can my neighbor’s subprime mortgage hurt my mortgage?” And now we know how.
Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples is analogous to redefining lending guidelines to offer mortgages to applicants who under previous definitions would not qualify. We are creating subprime marriages.
The motivation for changing the definition is also similar. Home ownership is a stabilizing institution. Government programs sought to lower the standards for mortgage qualifications in order to encourage the stabilizing influence of home ownership among lower-income families and minorities. Plus everyone wants the benefits of home ownership, and the government and businesses wanted the increased revenue by lending and taxing people who were previously not eligible.
But by lowering the standards they set up a system that in the long term destabilized the entire housing market.
Likewise, marriage is a stabilizing institution. Some same-sex marriage proponents argue that by allowing homosexuals to marry they will stabilize relationships that are at the present notoriously unstable. They want the benefits of marriage. Who doesn’t? But just like home ownership, but even more so, marriage is a long term investment. It is an investment in the next generation of citizens consisting of the children raised by marriages, and by proxy an investment in society. By redefining marriage, we potentially destabilize the entire system in the long term, even if things look peachy in the interim.
Of course, same-sex marriage is only one type of subprime marriage. For decades now we have been investing in other forms of subprime marriages as we grow increasingly tolerant of pornography, infidelity, abuse, and divorce. In many ways same-sex marriage is as much a result of these existing subprime marriages.