Young Republicans Support Economic Fairness for all Americans

San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro and former World Bank President Paul Wolfowitz recently addressed the Young Republicans in an opinion essay ("Political support grows for same-sex marriage," Page B7, April 26), supporting same-sex marriage and advocating for the repeal of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).

Castro's position and his willingness to discuss same-sex marriage on the national stage reflect a clear departure from the Democratic Party's historical position. While certain polls indicate that support for same-sex marriage has recently increased, the ultimate poll - the ballot box - indicates that the support is not nearly as high as Castro and Wolfowitz suggest. The Young Republicans understand that good policy is not simply a matter of public opinion and we welcome a discussion on these issues.

An honest discussion is impossible without first recognizing that the primary issue highlighted by DOMA is the inequity in our federal tax code. DOMA, which was signed by President Clinton, does not in any way prevent states from allowing same-sex marriage, nor does it interfere with the benefits that states grant individuals in those marriages. Rather, its jurisdiction is limited to federal issues, including immigration, federal employment and the tax code.

Inequity in the tax code is the basis of the U.S. Supreme Court case cited by Castro and Wolfowitz. In United States v. Windsor, 83-year-old Edith Rae Windsor is suing the federal government over $363,000 that she owes in estate taxes because her deceased spouse, with whom she had been in a relationship since 1965, was a woman. We sympathize not only with Windsor but with all Americans who are required to return nearly half of the life savings of their deceased family members to the federal government. This would have been avoided had the estate tax been repealed permanently.

President Obama's 2014 budget is calling for the estate tax to be increased from a current top rate of 40 percent to 45 percent and the exemption lowered from $5.25 million to $3.5 million. Clearly, the result of this proposal is that more family members like Windsor will be affected. Thus, we call on the president and Congress to repeal the estate tax.

Despite certain polls that show increased support for same-sex marriage, the shift is not as dramatic as it may appear. Over the past 15 years, voters in 30 states have voted in favor of ballot measures defining marriage as between one man and one woman. Of the propositions legalizing same-sex marriage that were passed by voters in Washington, Maine and Maryland last November, not one received more than 54 percent of the popular vote, despite Obama defeating Mitt Romney by a minimum of 15 points in each of those states. If support for same-sex marriage is as high as Castro and Wolfowitz suggest, why did same-sex marriage pass by such a low margin in states that voted overwhelmingly blue?

In Texas, support for same-sex marriage is even lower. In 2005, 76 percent of Texas voters passed a constitutional amendment supporting the traditional definition of marriage. In 2010, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Bill White rejected as "inaccurate" GOP claims that he supported same-sex marriage. As recently as February 2013, the Texas Tribune found that 51 percent of independents oppose same-sex marriage, while only 39 percent of independents support it and 10 percent were undecided.

We agree with Castro and Wolfowitz that marriage is "the foundation of family life." We should be cautious to overturn a definition that has withstood for thousands of years simply to cure the injustices of a complex and discriminatory tax code. Instead, the Young Republicans call on the president and Congress to simplify the tax code, fixing inequities that affect all Americans.

Co-written by Mark C. Brown.

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