Gay Marriage Adds Up

Same-sex nuptials add significant revenue to states that legalize it

Photo by Think Stock

As Michele Bachmann and her cronies are trying to repeal gay marriage laws in Iowa, a new report shows that same-sex marriage actually does an economy good. A new Williams Institute report finds that the total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by same-sex couples and their guests gave a $13 million boost to the state and local economy of Iowa in the first year alone.

“People spend a lot of money on this important day. We used very low estimates of how much these same-sex couples spent, but it adds up to significant new spending for Iowa’s wedding industry,” explains M. V. Lee Badgett, the study’s co-author and research director of the Williams Institute in California.

And what’s good for Iowa is good for other states that say “I do” to marriage equality. Are you listening, Pennsylvania?

According to the State of Iowa, at least 2,099 same-sex couples married during the first year following the decision to extend marriage rights to same-sex couples. Of these 2,099 marriages, 866 couples lived in Iowa and 1,233 couples came from other states to tie the knot. The top five contributors of non-resident couples were surrounding states in the Midwest. Illinois was the largest contributor in Iowa, accounting for 17 percent of all out-of-state couples, before it, too, legalized same-sex nuptials. The same can be said for New York and Massachusetts that also attract couples from nearby states.

Not only does marriage equality come down to human rights, but it’s also economically savvy as people spend more money on weddings.

“Our study estimates that out-of-state same-sex couples alone spent $2.2 million on weddings in Iowa,” says study co-author Angeliki Kastanis, Public Policy Research Fellow at the Williams Institute. That translates to about $150,000 in tax revenue. And because Iowa, like many places that allow gay marriage – like Massachusetts and Washington D.C. – has a waiting period of three business days to receive a marriage license, out-of-state same-sex couples spent an additional $1.6 million on tourism alone.

Who’s willing to turn down that kind of revenue in a recession?