Gay Marriage Shows States Luring Discriminated Couples


“The states that recognize same-sex couples and allow them to marry are likely to be in a better budget position, they may find that they’re more attractive places to live,” Research Director M.V. Lee Badgett said, though effects such as improved productivity and worker loyalty are “really hard” to quantify.

One of the more tangible economic benefits for states allowing same-sex marriages comes from gay weddings and related tourism. Some 866 in-state same-sex couples chose to marry in the year after Iowa’s April 2009 decision to legalize such unions, while an additional 1,233 out-of-state pairs traveled to the state to get a marriage license, according to data obtained by the Williams Institute.

That translated into as much as an additional $12.9 million from wedding spending and tourism for state and local economies and as much as about $936,600 in tax revenue, the group estimated in a report.

Illinois’s Loss

In neighboring Illinois, where same-sex marriage is banned, legalization would generate as much as $103.2 million in wedding and tourism spending in the first three years, according to the Williams Institute.

While there is no state-level campaign in Iowa aimed at attracting gay couples and travelers, the Quad Cities region is considering advertising in gay-friendly publications and plans to track the economic impact of the population, according to the area’s convention and visitors bureau. The region, comprised of five cities that straddle the Mississippi River where it divides Iowa and Illinois, became a local destination for marriages and receptions following legalization.

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