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Stupid Things People Say About Gays: The Prop 8 Trial Series, Part 4 – The $ Game

January 14, 2010 By: jaysays Category: Featured, Stupid Things People Say About Gays

Many of the ridiculous arguments being used by those that support discriminatory laws banning marriage between two consenting adults based solely on the gender of those adults don’t apply specifically to the “gayness”; however, those arguments have been created solely to exclude same-sex couples from marriage and therefore seem to qualify as things being said about gays.

On Day 4 of the Proposition 8 trial, the Defendants (those opposed to same-sex marriage) attempted to make the Plaintiffs’ expert, San Francisco’s Chief Economist, Edwin A Egan, say that allowing gay marriage will increase the costs to the city.  The theory of the Defense being that clerks will be required to use their time to issue marriage licenses to more people and print more marriage licenses increasing paper and ink costs.

This argument not only fails at “common sense”, but also fails economically speaking, because there is a fee to obtain a marriage license in California (as pointed out by Egan).  That fee covers the costs associated with the clerk’s time, printing and other such expenses that would otherwise be borne by the city.

Let’s review, just in case we don’t know how much time/money would be required to issue a marriage license. Here are a few points that those stretching their imagination to prove that gay marriage will cost the city more money should consider:

  • A marriage license is a one page document.
  • 50 pages of nice quality “certificate” paper is about $10.00 (about $0.20 per page).
  • A high yield, rather expensive, black toner cartridge costs about $60.75 and will print approximately 7,000 pages (give or take depending on density) – that’s less than $0.01 per page, but will bulk it up to the full penny for this argument.
  • According to my local county clerk’s office, if I were to come with the completed marriage license application in hand, all required documentation and the correct fee, the total time required to have the license issued will not exceed 15 – 20 minutes (minus my time spent in line should there be one).
  • The median salary for a county clerk in the United states is $27,300.00.  But for this one, we need to make some assumptions: we will increase that median by 20% due to the high standard of living in California (particularly San Francisco);  assuming that the Clerk has worked for the city for some time and has a lot of education and experience to back them up, we’ll increase the salary another 10%.  In that case, our hypothetical clerk makes $36,036.00 per year – roughly $18.77 per hour.
  • At $18.77 per hour, the cost in salary for the clerk to spend 15 – 20 minutes issuing a marriage license would be approximately $6.26 (on the upper end).
  • Making another assumption to inflate the numbers even further in favor of those that oppose same-sex marriage, let’s assume the clerk must spend an additional 15 minutes scanning and properly filing the marriage license, that’s about another $4.70 cents to pay the Clerk – for a grand total of $10.96 being paid to the clerk for issuing one marriage license.
  • The fee that a couple must pay to have a public marriage license issued in San Francisco is $93.00.

At this point, the argument they make starts to get very boring in trying to disprove them – why?  Because it’s obvious there is no logical argument in the “money” game.  Gay marriage = money to the city and local businesses through marriage tourism.

Crunching those numbers further though, the total cost to the cityfor the issuance of one marriage license would be approximately $11.17 indicating that, when the City of San Fransisco issues one marriage license, it’s profit is approximately $81.83.

All that being said, how much should our government stand to profit before it gives full, legal recognition to all citizens?

NOTE: For more of the column, Stupid Things People Say About Gays, click here.