Same-Sex Marriage Promises Big Economic Boost to Some States

Gay Marriage Arkansas
Danny Johnston/AP
Increasingly U.S. courts have given the nod to same-sex marriage as a protected right. But even as social controversy continues in some areas, a new study suggests that legalized same-sex unions could generate a lot of money -- up to a collective $2.6 billion within the first three years states allowed it -- through wedding-related spending, tourism, and incremental tax revenues, according to studies by the Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law and Credit Suisse (CS).

"Same-sex couples and their out-of-town guests spend money to celebrate weddings," said Williams Distinguished Scholar M.V. Lee Badgett in a press release. "As we have seen in states that already extend marriage to same-sex couples, this spending boost can lead to an influx of tourism dollars that benefit local businesses and an increase in state and local tax revenue."

By estimating the potential number of per-state ceremonies if same-sex marriage were legal in each state and then calculating a likely amount of economic activity, the Williams Institute projected the amount of spending, additional tax revenue, and number of created jobs. In giant California, which allows same-sex marriage, as estimated 51,319 nuptials would create $392.3 million in total spending, which would generate $31.4 million in tax revenue and create 2,178 jobs.

A state like Texas, which doesn't currently permit same-sex marriage, might be missing a boon. According to the estimates, 23,200 ceremonies would result in $181.6 million in spending, $14.8 million in additional tax revenue, and 523 new jobs.

Some states would see relatively little impact. South Dakota, if it allowed same-sex marriage, might expect only 357 marriages, with spending $2.4 million, additional tax revenue of $0.1 million, and 7 jobs.

Wyoming, which does allow same-sex marriage, might also see little gain because of the small population and an expected 329 ceremonies, also with $2.4 million in spending, $0.1 million in additional taxes, and 8 jobs.

Of course, for some the promise of economic benefit won't sway their opinions. There have been businesses that have refused to have same-sex couples as clients.
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