June is Gay Pride Month and an opportunity to reflect on how same-sex equality and marriage has been good for business in the United States. The U.S., as of 2014, is one of 15 countries to have ruled in favor of gay marriage. Since Massachusetts became the first state to legalize gay marriage in 2004, same-sex marriages have been legalized in 19 states total. Since that time, many of the states that have elected to legalize marriage for homosexual couples have found the fiscal rewards to be substantial.
In 2004, the Congressional Budget Office estimated legalizing gay marriage would generate $1 billion annually nationwide. It was approximated that the wedding industry would expand by roughly $70 billion annually if gay marriage became legal. Also, it was projected that state revenue would increase by millions of dollars each year under same-sex marriage equality.
Same-sex marriages have become a good boost to the wedding business. Gay couples spend, according to The Knot wedding website, approximately $9,000 on wedding plans and ceremonies. Over 30 percent of same-sex couples spend over $10,000 on commitment ceremonies. The traditional couple spends around $27,000 on wedding celebrations, with an average national total of $57 billion in spending related directly to weddings.
This was the case in Seattle, a state that legalized gay marriage in 2012, it has accumulated $88 million in state revenue since the law passed. Massachusetts saw a hike of over $110 million in the first five years following the legalization of same-sex marriages. Allowing couples to wed increases revenue from higher income taxes, and has shown to reduce costs for healthcare programs.
New York, which lifted the ban on gay marriage in 2011, saw a staggering $259 million in revenue attributed to allowing same-sex marriage in the first year alone. This number represents revenue generated from taxes, marriage licensing fees, tourism to the state/wedding guests, travel and hospitality, wedding business planning. Same sex marriage has been so lucrative for the wedding and general economy of New York that several research studies, such as The Economic Impact of Same-Sex Marriage or Love Counts: The Economic Benefits of Marriage Equality in New York.
New York City’s comptroller, W.C. Thompson, Jr., reported legalizing same-sex marriages would lead to a decrease in costs for state benefit programs. Marriage has been proven to financially stabilize families, and allowing for same-sex marriage could potentially save the government millions of dollar per year in welfare funding.
The comptroller also calculated allowing gay marriage to become legal would generate almost $150 million to the economy of New York City, and $184 million to the state’s economy over the span of three years. NYC & Company reported legalizing gay marriage was favorable for the economy, and stated “it is clear that this was not only an important breakthrough, but that it met a need in the community.”
Other states have also seen that the benefits of legalizing same-sex marriage extending beyond couples to their guests. Boosts in travel, sight-seeing, dining and lodging have increased in each of the states that have enacted same-sex marriage laws, boosting the economy beyond the taxes generated from direct wedding spending.
In addition, companies recognize certain benefits of legalizing same-sex marriage. Companies such as Apple, Nike, Disney and Microsoft have all signed briefs championing equality. These companies, proposing that recruitment and retention was important in homosexual talent as well as heterosexual candidates, argued for gay marriage on the grounds that equality, eliminating stigma and the ability to care for families were qualities that would attract a bright and talented workforce.
New York, which lifted the ban on gay marriage in 2011, saw a staggering $259 million in revenue attributed to allowing same-sex marriage in the first year alone. This number represents revenue generated from taxes, marriage licensing fees, tourism to the state/wedding guests, travel and hospitality, wedding business planning.
There are reasons beyond good business sense behind legalizing gay marriage. States have cited many peripheral benefits for legalizing same-sex marriage outside of revenue, such as job creation, tourism, travel and wedding venue revenue, and fostering a spirit of equality among citizens.
By Mariah Beckman