Making Cents Out Of Gay Marriage
On July 26, 2012, 10:47 AM by Savannah Cox
The economic benefits of marriage are obvious. It’s time that same logic be applied to same-sex marriage to move beyond the same tired social discord.
Outraging libertarians, lobbyists and Slurpee lovers alike with his proposed ban on large, sugary drinks earlier this summer, New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg recently came out with some other figures that will most likely anger another subset of society. Lo and behold, a year after the New York State Assembly finally decided to allow all couples the right to experience the predominately sigh-filled event known as marriage, the state’s economy has benefited considerably. According to Bloomberg, said benefits added up to $259 million worth of economic impact in New York City alone and $16 million in tax revenue. Yes, it’s true: when gay people are allowed to marry, more money is spent, and in that sense everyone—from the florist down the street to your twisted, tongues-speaking fundamentalist neighbor—benefits.
To evaluate the economic impact that the numerous Steve and Bill betrothals had on the city, Bloomberg, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, NYC & Company CEO George Fertitta and New York City Clerk Michael McSweeney crunched the following numbers: over 200,000 guests traveled to the city for same-sex marriage events, resulting in the booking of over 235,000 hotel rooms at an average rate of $275 per night. They then added in some additional wedding-related expenses and multiplied that average by the amount of couples who chose to specify genders on their marriage licenses and voila, they came up with a figure that—in a time where more and more cities aren’t able to pay their bills—is nothing to sneeze at.
Granted, there are a few qualifications that need to be made. First, and as Woody Allen would quickly remind, well, everyone, New York is unlike any other city in the world. It’s got that je ne sais quoi international appeal, the Carrie Bradshaw-esque pop cultural acclaim and the added benefit of being one of the first cosmopolitan destinations in the nation to allow same-sex marriages within its five boroughs. But even in Iowa, UCLA’s Williams Institute estimates that total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by same-sex couples and their guests added an economic boost of $12 to $13 million to the state. In turn, that pot of dough likely resulted in a sum of $850,000 to $930,000 in state and local tax revenue. Researchers further speculate that if all 1,015 couples who did not state their gender on their Iowa marriage licenses were in fact same-sex, an additional $530,000 in revenue would be added to the aforementioned estimates.
In California—whose own economic forecast is about as clear as a Pollock painting—had Proposition 8 not overturned the California State Supreme Court’s 2008 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage, the state could have raked in $64 million in tax revenue stemming from a cool $683.6 million boom in same-sex wedding spending over the next three years.
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