The chairman of the ‘pro-family’ party

THE CHAIRMAN OF THE ‘PRO-FAMILY’ PARTY…. When RNC Chairman Michael Steele addressed the National Rifle Association yesterday, some nonsense was inevitable. For example, Steele, who used to support gun-control measures that the NRA staunchly oppose, said, “Democrats in Congress are threatening to deny Americans their Second Amendment right to own a firearm and defend their families and homes.” That doesn’t make any sense, of course, but Steele rarely does.

But Steele also shared with the gun enthusiasts his thoughts on gay marriage, specifically with regards to the economy.

Steele said he used the argument weeks ago while chatting on a flight with a college student who described herself as fiscally conservative but socially liberal on issues like gay marriage.

“Now all of a sudden I’ve got someone who wasn’t a spouse before, that I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse that I now have financial responsibility for,” Steele told Republicans at the state convention in traditionally conservative Georgia. “So how do I pay for that? Who pays for that? You just cost me money.”

As Steele sees it, some employers extend benefits to employees and their spouses. If gay employees are allowed to get married, employers will have a “financial responsibility” to provide benefits to two people, instead of one.

There’s one small problem with this: it’s applied just as easily to employers with straight workers, some of whom may have the audacity to have children. Indeed, some of these same straight employees might be so bold as to have children, adding all kinds of “financial responsibilities” to companies nationwide.

Steele, in other words, presented a scenario in which all marriages and children are necessarily bad for business. For the chairman of the party that presents itself as “pro-family,” it’s an odd argument to make.

For what it’s worth, there’s evidence that Steele is completely wrong, and that gay marriages actually improve economic development, but for the RNC, these pesky details don’t matter. The key for Steele is to convince people that families are an undue burden on American employers.