Same-Sex Weddings Are Boosting the Economy

Researchers say couples who tied the knot after the Supreme Court ruling generated millions of dollars for cities and states.

A year after becoming among the first same-sex couples to wed legally in California, Paul Katami (left) and Jeff Zarrillo, plaintiffs in the case that led to a court overturning the state's five-year ban on gay marriage, held a lavish wedding. (Photo: Mario Anzuoni/Reuters)

Nov 12, 2015· 1 MIN READ
Jennifer Swann is TakePart’s culture and lifestyle reporter.

The Supreme Court’s June decision in favor of marriage equality wasn’t just a victory for gay rights nationwide—new research shows it was also a boon to the economy.

Since the historic ruling, nearly 100,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot, resulting in more than $800 million spent on wedding costs by both the couples and their out-of-state guests, according to research conducted between June and November and released in a report Thursday by the Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA School of Law.

The weddings also generated $52 million in state and local tax revenue, which could support the creation of nearly 10,000 jobs per year, Williams Institute senior counsel Christy Mallory estimated.

“This study shows that business and governments have benefited from marriage for same-sex couples,” she said, cautioning that her analysis was based on conservative figures, so the financial impact could be even higher than the research shows.

Mallory based her findings on statistics gathered by research company The Wedding Report, which found that the average American couple last year spent $26,444 on a wedding. But because same-sex couples might receive less financial support from family members owing to a persistent stigma, Mallory estimated that same-sex couples spent just a fourth of that average figure—which was multiplied by the 96,000 same-sex weddings recorded between June and November for a total on $635 million. Based on previous state-level reports, Mallory found that an average of 16 out-of-state guests per wedding racked up an additional $178 million nationwide.

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The number of same-sex couples who decided to wed skyrocketed following the Supreme Court ruling, which ensured the right to marry in all states, including the 13 where it had been illegal until the ruling. In the short time since, same-sex weddings accounted for more than 10 percent of all summer marriages in the U.S. and for nearly 20 percent of all same sex couples who are currently married, the Williams Institute estimated.

Overall, the Supreme Court decision is also boosting social acceptance of same-sex marriage, not inspiring a backlash against it, according to a separate Williams Institute report that examined public opinions in the states that legalized same-sex marriage prior to the ruling.

“There have been some assertions that attitudes in states like Alabama have not changed when it comes to marriage equality,” said report coauthor Andrew Flores. But in the coming years, he said, “those states will be the states where we should expect to see even more change.”