Recently, Michael Steele, the Republican National Committee Chairman, stated gay marriage is bad because it might hurt small businesses. “Steele said that was just an example of how the party can retool its message to appeal to young voters and minorities without sacrificing core conservative principles. 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.” (Note to the AP writer: that’s called a libertarian.) If this is what he calls retooling and thinks it will actually appeal to young voters, then the GOP is in for a long ride down.

His argument is that if gays can marry, then this will cost businesses through financial responsibility: “You just cost me money.” News flash for the Chairman: the business would incur the same cost for a heterosexual marriage. If incurring costs is wrong, then we should outlaw heterosexual marriages as well. Alas, Chairman Steele has still not been able to say why incurring costs for heterosexual marriages is any more morally, legally, or logically acceptable than incurring them for homosexual marriages (nor will he ever be able to). So, in fact, Steele has said nothing new and has proved nothing.

Furthermore, yes, there is a cost to allow gay marriages, just as there is a cost to allow blacks to vote. The question is not whether there are costs. The question is whether the costs are justified—if the benefits outweigh the costs. If all we ask is whether there is a cost associated with a particular action, then we are merely acting as ethical egoist, which we know is a morally bankrupt moral theory (cf. The Moral Economy). We might say a business incurs a cost when it has to update its facilities to ensure it provides for a safe work environment for it workers. The real question is, to what end are these costs being incurred?

Keep trying, Michael Steele. Keep trying.