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October 12, 2021

The costs of being a gay couple

For years, gay activists lamented the fact that same-sex couples shoulder health, legal and other living costs that heterosexual couples don’t have to worry about.

In Canada at least, some of this disparity has disappeared now that same-sex couples have the same social and tax benefits as heterosexuals in common-law relationships.

It’s a different story in the States, however, which is why the New York Times recently set out to come up with ball park estimate of an American couple’s lifetime cost of being gay.

Their conclusion: In the worst case, close to half a million U.S. dollars.

To come up with this figure, the Times created a same-sex couple whose real life situation might mirror that of a straight couple, concentrating on the three states with the largest LGBT populations – New York, California and Florida – to estimate typical incomes and expenses.

The study assumed the couples were together until one partner died, were college-educated and raised children.

As the article points out, where any particular couple ends up financially varies widely depending on particular circumstances. In fact, some gay couples might actually better off financially by staying unmarried – just like many heterosexual couples in the U.S.

Nonetheless, nearly all the extra costs that gay couples face would be erased if the federal government legalized same-sex marriage, the Times suggests.

So far, only a few New England states have done so as the debate continues to roar across the country. Only yesterday, thousands of gay activists marched from the White House to the Capitol, demanding that President Barack Obama push for further protection for gay couples.

Their biggest fear? An upcoming referendum allowing Maine voters to repeal or uphold existing legislation legalizing same-sex unions.

Tell us: If you lived in New England, how would you vote?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

James HaversJames Havers

James is the senior editor of MSN Money living in Toronto. He has worked for the Nikkei Shimbun (Tokyo),,, Canadian Business and other publications. Havers turned to journalism after teaching overseas.

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...