Northeast Times

Why gay marriage could be good for Philadelphia

River­ward Rant: Joe Quigley looks at the be­ne­fits of mar­riage - for both straight couples and gay couples - and how mat­ri­mony could help strengthen and grow the City of Broth­erly Love.

I’m usu­ally frus­trated by polit­ic­al cul­ture war­ri­ors like former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick San­tor­um.

He an­noys me be­cause he dresses like a chump, seems stiff as a board, and op­poses pretty much everything I con­sider fun.

He touts him­self as a “fam­ily val­ues” can­did­ate, which I find funny be­cause I can’t find any­one who de­scribes him­self as be­ing “anti-fam­ily val­ues.”

For once, however, I’ll give it to San­tor­um: Amer­ica needs more mar­ried couples.

Philly in par­tic­u­lar.

And I don’t mean that in a trite and clich&ea­cute; way, either. Mar­riage is a be­ne­fit to the eco­nomy.

Mar­ried people buy more stuff, in­clud­ing houses. They cut down on health-care costs be­cause they’re eli­gible for shared em­ploy­er be­ne­fits.

Mar­ried people are also far less likely to raise knuckle­head chil­dren who will, stat­ist­ic­ally speak­ing, mug at least a few of the fine, kind­hearted Star read­ers in the near fu­ture.

In­deed, an up­surge in loc­al mar­riages would be a boon to a broke city.

We should en­cour­age all love­birds to get mar­ried and hope­fully stay mar­ried.

And that should in­clude gay people.

Right now, Philly has one of the health­i­est hous­ing mar­kets in the coun­try. The river­ward neigh­bor­hoods are liv­ing proof of that, con­sid­er­ing how every­one in East Kens­ing­ton is either rid­ing a vin­tage fixed-gear bi­cycle or drink­ing at Johnny Brenda’s at this very second.

If you wanted to in­ject a whole pop­u­la­tion of folks in­to this city cap­able of gentri­fy­ing more neigh­bor­hoods and pump­ing dol­lars in­to the loc­al eco­nomy, all you have to do is leg­al­ize gay mar­riage.

Leg­al­ized gay mar­riage would lure count­less ho­mo­sexu­al couples to an already-hot hous­ing mar­ket.

Gay couples of­ten have more dis­cre­tion­ary in­come than straight couples, simply be­cause gay folks don’t have as many chil­dren (un­less they ad­opt or have in-vitro sci­ence ba­bies). While you and your hus­band stay home on the week­end to save money for baby clothes, a gay couple could be out pat­ron­iz­ing loc­al busi­nesses.

But Pennsylvania, thanks to politi­cians like San­tor­um, isn’t a very at­tract­ive place for gay couples.

The state, in gen­er­al, doesn’t re­cog­nize gay mar­riage (ob­vi­ously), civil uni­ons or do­mest­ic part­ner­ships.

Philly bucks that trend and at least al­lows gay couples to enter do­mest­ic part­ner­ships, but it doesn’t of­fer as many rights to the couple as those en­joyed by “tra­di­tion­al” mar­ried folks.

Ex­cept now that San­tor­um and the cul­ture war­ri­ors have re-entered the polit­ic­al spec­trum, vari­ous loud­mouths will fight against ef­forts to leg­al­ize same-sex mar­riage even in the face of its ob­vi­ous be­ne­fits.

It’s not clear to me why so­cial con­ser­vat­ives and church-go­ers op­pose gay mar­riage. Well, I un­der­stand their op­pos­i­tion is based on re­li­gious grounds.

I don’t care about that.

It’ll prob­ably be a cold day in Kens­ing­ton when a gay couple get mar­ried in St. Anne’s Church — ex­cept that the pro-gay mar­riage ar­gu­ment has noth­ing to do with re­li­gion.

Nobody is say­ing that gay folks should be al­lowed to get mar­ried in the Lord’s house.

They just want to get mar­ried in the court’s house.

Aside from be­ing il­lo­gic­al — and det­ri­ment­al to the eco­nomy, not to men­tion ba­sic civil rights — op­pos­i­tion to gay mar­riage on re­li­gious grounds breaks down the bar­ri­er of church and state, which guys like San­tor­um love.

It’s ex­actly the same as Chris­ti­ans de­mand­ing that no res­taur­ants be able to serve meat on Fri­days dur­ing Lent, and I don’t know about you, but I en­joy a good cheese­bur­ger on Fri­day nights and I don’t think any­body’s per­son­al re­li­gious be­liefs should in­fringe on my right to get fat at Mc­Don­ald’s any time I choose.

Per­son­ally, when San­tor­um and his sup­port­ers start bark­ing about gay mar­riage, I re­spond with a simple, “Why do you care?”

It doesn’t af­fect them.

If gay mar­riage were leg­al­ized in Philly to­mor­row and wed­ding bells rang out in the Gay­bor­hood, any­one liv­ing in Port Rich­mond?

“Live and let live” is an idea we should all em­brace, es­pe­cially when it will be­ne­fit our com­munit­ies, our city, and our coun­try. ••

“River­ward Rants” re­flects the opin­ions of Joe Quigley, a Fishtown res­id­ent, area nat­ive and writer of the Web site PhillyNeigh­bor.com, where he makes cyn­ic­al (and un­censored) com­ments about life in the river­wards. He can be reached at JQuig1984@gmail.com

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