Amanda S. took a screen shot while doing her taxes online at Turbo Tax.  The program asks if the filer is married or gay married:

What a fascinating moment in U.S. history.  In some states a person can marry someone of the same sex, in others they cannot.  Tax programs trying to help people file their federal and state taxes need to record both kinds of marriages because they collect information for both tax returns simultaneously in order to reduce the time burden on the client.

But why not just ask people if they were married?  Perhaps the people who designed these questions thought that the term “marriage” is so deeply associated with heterosexuality that it wouldn’t occur to people who were married to someone of the same sex to check it.  Then again, I would think that those gay couples who are legally married would be especially cognizant of their right to check the “marriage” box whether same-sex marriage was specified or not.

Or are there different tax rules applied to gay and straight marriage?

In any case, if we’re going to separate homo- and hetero-marriage, why not label “marriage” as “opposite-sex marriage” or “other-sex marriage”?  Why normalize heterosexual marriage (real marriage, you know, the original marriage, marriage marriage!) and mark homosexual marriage (the gay kind, duh, so gay)?

I don’t know what they were thinking… but it’s fascinating.

Happy tax day U.S. Americans!

Lisa Wade is a professor of sociology at Occidental College and the co-author of Gender: Ideas, Interactions, Institutions. You can follow her on Twitter and Facebook.
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