Thursday, December 09, 2004

Gay for Pay?

New Zeland's parliament just passed a controversial bill to legalize same-sex marriage. Ever since this debate heated up in the U.S. it's been on the rise in other countries as well. (See: Canada 'Can Permit Gay Marriage' BBC News UK Ed.) Most notable among states legislating protections for same-sex couples (and unmarried straight couples) is Singapore. Notorious for its intolerance of personal freedoms, Singapore's push for GLBT legislation is, well, strange.

The reason is that Singapore (and several of these other nations I imagine) is interested in capitalizing on America's strangely hostile climate for homosexuals. Depending on who you cite anywhere between 2 and 10 percent of the American population is gay. (Kinsey pulls out the top end at 10, but 6 is a more reasonable figure.) Avoiding all of the traditional stereotypes about homosexuals (even the one about good taste in shoes), what that means for NZ, Singapore, and possibly Canada is that those homosexuals with the means, especially couples, will be inclined to consider moving to and working in those nations. Singapore's GLBT movement outright admits that it wasn't a human rights victory, but a free enterprise victory.

Tighter top-down controls on a population isn't conducive to the free spread of ideas, which isn't conducive to capitalism. I'm not suggesting that all of America's gay population is going to move to Singapore. What I am suggesting is that the most creative, most adventurous, and possibly wealthiest of the GLBT population in the United States will find themselves with a decision to make about where they want to make their home. That decision will become decidedly easier as U.S. states pass gay marriage bans and lovely little Pacific islands attach pink triangles to their flags.

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