gay sex tax minimum wage teaser
gay sex tax minimum wage teaser

A Federal Minimum Wage Hearing Was Delayed Due to One Guy’s Ideas on Taxing Gay Sex

Here are two concepts you surely never thought would be linked, or even discussed concurrently: the federal minimum wage and a “gay sex tax” (whatever the latter even means). But as of today, it officially makes sense for them to be mentioned in the same breath. Now let’s back up.

Democrats in the U.S. Congress are currently pushing hard to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour. (It’s currently $7.25 per hour.) And a hearing was scheduled for today, Wednesday, by the House Committee on Education and the Workforce to discuss the policy’s “consequences for workers and small businesses.” As part of that hearing, Republicans had unearthed a witness or two to testify.

One of those witnesses was to be San Diego State University’s Joseph Sabia. He’s a professor of economics there and Director of the Center for Health Economics & Policy Studies.

The minimum wage hearing has officially been postponed after a 2002 blog post was unearthed in which Sabia wrote of a “gay sex tax,” that is the idea of taxing and regulating gay sex due to the danger of HIV and other diseases. “In gay sex, we have an activity that is clearly leading to disastrous health consequences. What rational person would engage in this sort of activity? There is only one solution — let’s tax it,” reads the post.

Now, it must be mentioned that the piece was intended as satire. Read as a whole, it’s a rant meant to illustrate why a junk food tax (something Sabia opposed) is a preposterous idea. Towards the end of the blog post, Sabia says, “the government has no business interfering in the lives of smokers, fatties, or gays. In America, each citizen ought to be free to choose the risks he is willing to take and the potential rewards (or costs) he may receive. He should be free to make choices that could lead to heart disease, diabetes, or HIV.”

gay sex tax minimum wage sabia
Joseph Sabia

That sentiment, however, doesn’t excuse the blatantly ridiculous and downright homophobic argument he gave for his “gay sex tax.” Take a look at this, from Sabia’s post, written when he was in graduate school at Cornell University:

Homosexual activity has been responsible for devastating health outcomes — deadly HIV, hepatitis B and various other sexually transmitted diseases. When two random men get together and choose to have sex, there is not an insignificant risk of infection and death. And if these infected men then go on to have sex with women, then you have women — and possibly children — who will be stricken with AIDS.

Even through a 2002 mirror, his words are ludicrous. “Infection and death” was not (and is not) some sort of established risk or calling card of gay sex, nor have gay men ever been the only way sexually transmitted infections propagate. His words also depict a lack of knowledge surrounding the distinction between HIV and AIDS, even more unfortunate considering Sabia was in grad school at the time.

Another blog post by Sabia compared college women to prostitutes: “Today’s college girl looks to Ally McBeal, the trollops of Sex in the City, and the floozies on Friends to set their moral compasses,” he wrote.

Democrats on the House Committee on Education and the Workforce naturally denounced Sabia’s ‘gay sex tax’ post and railed against his being called as a witness. Rep. Mark Takano of California called it “an absolute shame and a disgrace” that Sabia was invited to speak, and that his writings “should automatically disqualify anyone from speaking as an expert” before Congress.

Sabia has since apologized for the 16-year-old post, saying, “I regret the hurtful and disrespectful language I used as a satirical college opinion writer 20 years ago.”

UPDTAE, Dec. 13: In addition to apologizing for the 2002 post, in a separate statement Sabia has denied allegations of homophobia, saying he’s “a gay man in a long-term, committed relationship and these charges of homophobia deeply hurt both me and my family.”

The 2002 post seems all the more gross in light of the fact that it was a gay man who made those irresponsible allegations about gay sex and incompetent assertions about HIV.

What do you think of this talk of a “gay sex tax” that is delaying debate over the federal minimum wage?