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Gay marriage --The answer for states' budgets?

same sex weddingGay marriage may be gaining support; not because of a shift in philosophical or moral values, but because states need the bucks. According to a recent study by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, the law allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maine would have boosted the state budget approximately $8 million per year. This net impact would result from an increase in state income and sales tax revenue as well as savings in expenditures on state public benefit programs.

In calculating the net benefit to the State, the study predicted that half of Maine's 4,644 same-sex couples, or 2,316 couples, would have married in the first three years of being able to do so. The study also projected that 15,660 non-resident same-sex couples would have come to Maine to marry. Reportedly, same-sex weddings and associated tourism could have generated $60 million in spending over three years, providing a boom to Maine's economy.

Unfortunately for the state coffers, voters overturned the same sex marriage legislation last November.
Other states are taking note, however. Iowa's Supreme Court upheld the right of same sex marriage in 2009 and it may prove to be very lucrative. The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law estimated that Iowa had 5,800 same-sex couples in 2005, and a 2008 study predicted that more than 2,900 of Iowa's same-sex couples would marry in the first three years of legalizing gay marriage. Based on experiences of other states that allow same-sex union, the institute estimated about 55,000 gay and lesbian couples would travel to Iowa to marry during that period. That's a lot of cash coming into the economy.

Gay marriage may be to the state's budgets what the lottery was 20 years ago. Certainly, the issue of gay marriage remains very controversial. Focus on the Family founder James Dobson cautioned in 2005, that gay marriage "will bring the destruction of this nation." But in the states where it has been legalized, it's been more positive than negative in many ways.

Gay couples spend an average of $7,500 per wedding and invite friends and family for the event. Many couples have chosen to remain in the state where they were married because it affords them legal protection. While the majority of Americans still oppose gay marriage, it may be a battle that doesn't make sense long term.



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