Mixed Emotions – Finance, Obama, Gay Marriage and Quicksand

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Above all things I am a pragmatist. As a political operative, like a spy, a good businessperson, a sound financial adviser or an undercover cop, the ability to divorce yourself from the emotional ties that often encumber good judgment is one of your greatest assets.

President Obama’s, until very recent, opposition to gay marriage is a blue ribbon example of emotions driving policy making decisions. The same goes for those voters in North Carolina. The word marriage is something wholly inseparable from our emotional constitutions. It involves the ephemeral and indescribable feeling of love, at least it should, and pragmatism gets tossed out the window when we discuss matters of the heart. The same holds true for opponents of the ban, their philosophical foundation rocked by the notion that any government policy would prevent someone from loving another person. And this is where the same-sex marriage debate gets mired in a quicksand pit of its own making.

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To this writer, from a purely pragmatic perspective, the gay marriage issue is a financial issue. Were you to, forgive the pun, but divorce the word marriage from the debate and start passing pieces of legislation that allowed gay couples to file joint tax returns, make health care based decisions for one another, buy a house together, etc… I don’t believe the voting public would rally around an opposition to those things. Toss the word marriage in there and the situation goes nuclear, pushing everyone on either side of the debate to an emotional DEFCON 1.

The fact of the matter is, marriage is a religious, not public policy term. The government’s use of the term marriage is to define the financial situation of taxpayers, hence the term ‘common law marriage’ applied to live-in heterosexual couples who for all intents and purposes are ‘married’ but haven’t taken vows, knelt in a church or engaged in the chicken dance in front of family and friends over cooling plates of prime rib and empty cocktail glasses. Culture, not government defines marriage. We would all do well to remember this in an effort to tamp down the rhetoric. But, it’s an election year so who am I kidding.

In the world of your personal finances, cold hard rationalizations are what are going to keep you secure and financially safe. We don’t invest in company’s because we like the name, or give our friends $10,000 because they are our friends and they think they’ve invented the next Shamwow in their garage. You don’t buy a house you can’t afford because the window treatments are pretty and the tire swing reminds you of grandma’s farm. You may want to, but you don’t.

Now for the payoff as I graciously thank you for your attention during my diatribe. With a housing market still plump with quality, cost-friendly property’s, many people are seizing this moment to jump into the home owning game. But all this talk of marriage got me thinking, what if you’re not and you want to buy a house with someone, anyone, that you’re not joined to in financial government sanctioned matrimony. Can you get the same tax benefits, protections?

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We say it over and over on the Quizzle Wire, but reality is repetition you’ve finally stopped ignoring. If you want to buy a house, are even casually thinking about it, check your credit. Too often first time, and second time for that matter, homebuyers realize all too late that their credit needs improvement to secure a sensible home loan. Credit scores can improve, but it takes time and discipline.

So if you want to buy a house with a partner, check your credit and then watch this video before you sit down to discuss this with you’re potential co-buyer. And remember, love and money – like emotions and public policy – never mix.