Does the secret to solving state budget woes lie in legalizing gay marriage? Perhaps, suggest two new studies which show that same-sex marriages inject new money into states where it is allowed.
While legalizing gay marriage won't plug the multimillion dollar budget gaps on its own, Thinkprogress.com had this to say about one study conducted at UCLA's Williams Institute:
Marriage equality in Massachusetts has resulted in "clear economic
gains" for the state. Since 2004, the state has seen an increase in
young, highly-educated, "creative class" professionals in same-sex
relationships. "Creative class individuals in same-sex couples were 2.5
times more likely
to move to Massachusetts in the three years after marriage equality
than in the three years before."
In an economy dependent on innovation, the migration of the so-called creative class is not to be overlooked. And indeed members of the creative class, whether gay or straight, are hard to miss, toting Apple laptops and sporting designer jeans and baseball caps.
"Other states allowing gay couples to
marry -- including Connecticut, Iowa, Vermont, and Maine
-- will see similar economic gains," the study predicts, presumably from the job creation and growth spurred by the creative types.
The second study, also from the Williams Institute, finds that same-sex
marriages "have given a significant boost to the state's economy." A typical gay or lesbian couple spends $7,400 on their weddings
in Massachusetts, which come to think of it, actually seems impossibly low for the high-rent New England wedding circuit.
If a gay couple can throw a nice wedding in Massachusetts for under $7,500, don't just welcome them to the state, get them jobs in government!
The cumulative economic boost of $111 million that the study predicts will be peanuts compared to the potential savings. Mix in the property improvements and high design that gays are known for (a stereotype, yes, but a positive one), and you've sown the seeds of entire neighborhoods turning around, pumping in even more revenue into government via increased property assessments.
The promise of money may not be enough of a reason for voters or legislatures in California, New York or other fiscally-challenged states to hop on the gay marriage train. Opponents of same-sex marriage on religious grounds may charge that
these arguments amount to "selling your soul to the devil." But it does pose a Freakonomics-worthy scenario worth understanding fully.
Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele's
recently argued that same-sex marriage would be a burden on the small businesses and the economy.
"Now all of a sudden I've got someone who wasn't a spouse before, that
I had no responsibility for, who is now getting claimed as a spouse
that I now have financial responsibility for," Steele said. "Who pays
for that? You just cost me money."
The gay marriage debate has numerous undercurrents, and fighting it on purely economic merits ignores the other issues at stake. But a fair analysis would include the economic benefits or burdens of allowing same-sex marriages in a geographic locale. The economic benefits of heterosexual marriage have been touted for years.