When I was running for Congress several years ago, I was often asked whether I was in favor of making same sex marriage legal. The answer,
"No, it shouldn't be legal. It should be compulsory."
The idea was that if couples like Joe and Bill got up each morning and began the day by apologizing to each other for the things they did, said, should have done but didn't do, were about to do, etc., it would give them a certain commonality with couples consisting of one man and one woman (now often referred to as 'mixed marriages') and we'd all get along better.
Ok, it was only a joke. Ha, ha. Nobody laughed and so here I am in Brooklyn, writing articles which are occasionally amusing, instead of being in Washington writing laws which are never amusing.
Anyway, I've got another idea. If you don't like it, don't worry. A Tax Partner Law would be simple, easy to understand, probably help a lot of people and require no new bureaucracy. In other words, it has no chance of passing.
Though regulating marriage is clearly a state function, the federal government could allow same sex couples (partners) to file federal tax returns jointly, have the same federal estate tax benefits as married couples, and be entitled to spousal (partner) social security and medicare benefits. These all fall under the jurisdiction of the federal government and would, therefore, not present a constitutional problem.
And besides, why not give same sex couples these rights? Fair is fair. If you pay the same taxes as everyone else, you should get the same tax benefits as everyone else. There's no tax deduction for being gay. Why should there be a penalty?
And it would be easy to administer. Just pick up a 'partnership' application at any post office, get it notarized, and bring it back. No more complicated than getting a passport. It would be like a marriage without in-laws.
Everything else about marriage should be left to the states where it belongs. States that have estate and income taxes could decide for themselves whether or not they wanted to have a state 'tax partner law.' Same thing with same sex marriage, purely a state matter.
And, of course, every couple could make their own decisions as to where they wanted to live or to retire. Let the states, through their tax laws, compete for these folks. No different from what straight couples do now.
Tax Partner Laws, a perfect solution to a complicated problem? No, probably not. But better than the mess we have now? Maybe.