The Subprime Marriage Crisis – An Analogy Between Same-Sex Marriage and the Credit Crisis


I came across this subprime marriage analogy today from J. Max Wilson on Sixteen Small Stones…. It’s spot on!

–Beetle Blogger

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.

read the entire excellent post here



  1. rubyeliot said,

    May 11, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    this article is so great.

  2. Yours Sincerely said,

    May 11, 2009 at 8:56 pm

    Standards set the bar for excellence. If we lower standards, then we lower expectations on desired results. “Integrity” is the word used by many professions to determine just how much abuse something can handle before it fails. This applies to marriage as well. Lowering the standard on marriage to include an “anything-between-two-consenting-adults-counts-as-a-marriage” damages the integrity of the institution. Perhaps the cracks don’t show immediately, but given enough time, any structure, be it physical or social, will collapse, bring with it ruin and the potential for tragedy. We do our society no favors to lower the bar on marriage standards.

    Excellent post BB!

  3. Chairm said,

    May 11, 2009 at 10:55 pm

    If some consenting adults can marry, but others cannot, then, there is no standard that depends on consent alone is not really a standard.

    The standard is provided by the answer to the question, consent to what?

    The government (on behalf of society) is party to each marriage it licenses. Some consenting adults cannot marry because of the limitation of two; that is, lone individuals and threesomes and moresomes do not meet a requirement but based on an unknown standard.

    Again, we need to know the answer to the question, consent to what?

    Likewise with the limitation that some previousy married are eligible but others are not. And the limitation that some related people are eligible but others are not.

    The limitation that is based on age is likewise no standard on its own for some mature people are eligible while others are not; indeed, some underaged people are eligible but others are not.

    Always, the important thing to establish the standard (be it high or be it low or be it somewhere in-between) is the answer to the question, consent to what?

    Not all who’d consent are eligible to marry so consent is not really the standard of marriageability. And limitations are arbitrary if they are not based on the meaning of marriage.

    I think this applies to the subprime analogy in that it is not enough to just say that a person is taking on debt and that a creditor is extending credit.

  4. Rita Danning said,

    May 12, 2009 at 9:24 am

    This is a great analogy, like how does your counterfeit bag of money affect my bank account? Yeah, it does.

  5. Ryan said,

    May 13, 2009 at 9:54 am

    Any who ever asked “How can my neighbor’s subprime mortgage hurt my mortgage?” is an idiot–just like anyone who thinks there is anything profound about this utterly superficial article–living next to a foreclosed property lowers property values.

  6. Vladimir Lizenko said,

    December 17, 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Same-sex marriages it is a gloom for the USA and other countries!

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