Gay Marriage Adds Up

Turns out Gov. Chris Christie passed up as much as $119 million bucks when he vetoed gay marriage in the Garden State

Most people who are opposed to same-sex marriage usually pin their concerns on religious belief. Churches don’t want to be forced to perform gay marriages and others consider being gay an abomination. But what we seldom discuss is the other wide of the debate – the economics of marriage equality. For the states that have legalized it, gay marriage – quite literally – adds up.

New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg has said that revenues in the Empire State have already exceeded millions since same-sex marriage was legalized last year. Aside from being a fair civil rights decision, it turns out that welcoming same-sex nuptials really does pay off in more than simply smart social policy.

Economic experts now say that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie may have just turned his back on $119 million in the next three years when he vetoed gay marriage last month. According to the 2010 U.S. Census, there are almost 17,000 documented same-sex couples in the Garden State (and likely many more who have not reported it on Census filings). The Philadelphia Business Journal reports that weddings of these couples could add up to millions in tax revenue alone, nevermind the tourist dollars, patronage to local businesses and other expenses associated with marriage.

At a time when the economic outlook is uncertain, if not tumultuous, we are hard pressed to see how any civic leader could possibly pass on a few million just to satisfy religious conservatives. Christie’s rejection of marriage equality also makes us wonder about the savvy economic policies he likes to lay claim to – especially if you consider that he’ll likely face more cuts in education and increases in taxes if he wants to keep Jersey up and running this year.

Does homophobia even trump smart fiscal policy?