Saturday, September 13, 2008

The costs of marriage ineqality and leaving the US

When talking to people in the United States about the hardships of being a same-sex couple and not being able to marry, there is usually a striking lack of sympathy. These non-sympathetic responses are usually in one of three categories: 1) If you don’t love the good ol’ USA, leave, 2) hire a lawyer and find a way to get a legal contract that gives you many of the same rights as a married couple, or 3) this is your own fault for not living according to God’s plan. I will not go into the third argument at this time, but the first two are very expensive.

This brings me to the topic for this entry—the costs associated with not being able to marry. When you bring up the topic of financial equity to US Americans, they usually become a little more sympathetic. If US Americans feel that you are suffering from a financial disadvantage that is truly beyond your control (and what they consider to be truly beyond your control is limited), they understand the injustice, and this usually prompts some sort of change in the tax code.

So, being that my only option to stay with my wife was to leave the US, I think it’s only appropriate to document the costs associated with that.

Some of the costs detailed below were optional, some were not. Some were purely related to the state of the US economy, and some of the costs would have been the same no matter what the economy was doing. Also, many of the costs below that appear to be optional would have been replaced with other expenses had I chosen a different option.

Also, keep in mind that this table only details the cost of having to leave the US, not the countless thousands of dollars we had to pay in legal and other costs to stay together for the nine years we lived in the US.

Item, activity, or other financial impact / Approximate cost
(in US dollars)
Legal representation for Canadian immigration / 3000

Medial exam to qualify for Canadian immigration / 200

Miscellaneous fees from the Canadian government
after immigration was approved / 1500

Cost of travel to Canada (hotels, gas, etc) to look at
towns, to interview for jobs, and to find a residence / 2000

Cost of a moving truck and gas to move our stuff / 1400

Cost of importing our vehicles (government fees
and vehicle modifications) / 1200

Sarah’s required withdrawal of her US retirement
account (tax loss) / 4000

Insurance premiums for temporary emergency healthcare
coverage duringthe waiting period for the
provincial healthcare / 500

Best-case scenario loss of money on our US home from
being forced to sell during a poor housing market (this
amount is calculated by taking the amount of the
downpayment on our house plus the amount of physical
improvements we financed minus the most we could
possibly make in this housing market) / 20000

Total $33800

This table does not cover other incidental expenses. Also, some expenses, such as moving, were minimized as much as possible. We did it ourselves as opposed to hiring a moving company, which would have cost an additional $3000. So, if we round this amount to $34000, that is a significant setback for almost any person, but especially for a couple, such as Sarah and me, who were not financially well-off to start. These expenses occurred over a four-year period, and during that time, depleted our savings and increased our debt.

The costs of inequality are immense in terms of emotional costs and can’t be measured. But the financial costs are significant as well.

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