Last month’s U.S. Supreme Court decision to legalize same-sex marriage did more than just that — it created the potential for a positive economic impact fueled by a class of Americans who suddenly found themselves on improved federal footing.
In the wake of the historic 5-4 ruling that found marriage to be a constitutional right for gay and lesbian couples in the United States, few news outlets have reported on potential economic benefit.
However, one organization, the Williams Institute (an affiliate of the University of California at Los Angeles School of Law), has reported that it could mean a $546 million boost for the 13 states that had yet to legally recognize same-sex marriage.
Another organization, Nerdwallet.com, published a report on the “Economic Impact of Gay Marriage” in November 2014, estimating that consumer spending on same-sex weddings alone could total more than $2.5 billion, including $51 million in Colorado, following such a ruling.
“One of the awesome things about this ruling is that it applies to everyone in every state,” said Laura Reinsch, communications director for One Colorado, a gay-rights advocacy group.
“Folks who wanted to get married in Colorado can now come here and do that without having to worry about their marriage being recognized in their home state.”
The Williams Institute reported June 22 that there are 150,000 same-sex couples living in the 13 U.S. states that did not allow for gay marriage, and 70,000 of those couples are expected to marry in the three years following the decision.
“I’m sure it will help tourism and the economy, because there will be more marriages.”
– Laura Reinsch
The report also found that the number of same-sex couples living in the U.S. has tripled since 2013 to around 1 million, and currently 390,000 are married.
“In addition to boosting state economies, wedding spending is expected to generate almost $50 million in state and local sales tax revenue and create up to 6,200 jobs across the 13 states,” according to the report.
According to the Williams Institute report, 12,424 same-sex couples were living in Colorado in 2010 (based on U.S. Census data), representing 6.3 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. The study found that around 50 percent of those same-sex couples, roughly 6,200 couples, would choose to marry in the first three years of legalization, a pattern that has been observed in other states that have legalized same-sex marriage. That boost in marriages was estimated to produce $2 million in the first year and create more than 400 jobs in the state (436 total).
But Reinsch said the rate of gay and lesbian weddings in the state will likely be less drastic than in the months following the Colorado Supreme Court’s decision in October 2014 to lift the ban on same-sex marriage (Colorado Springs Mayor John Suthers, then the Colorado attorney general, declared that county clerks throughout the state “can and should begin issuing and recognizing marriage licenses to gay couples”).
“I think the increase in same-sex marriages will be a modest bump compared to when Colorado legalized [same-sex marriage] in October,” Reinsch said.
“But I’m sure it will help tourism and the economy, because there will be more marriages.”
Chelsy Offutt, director of communications for the Colorado Springs Convention and Visitors Bureau, agrees that the Pikes Peak region is an ideal destination for weddings of all kinds, adding that the CVB has begun marketing the area more generally to the country’s LGBT population.
“Colorado Springs is a great place for any couple to hold a destination wedding or spend their honeymoon,” Offutt said. “Like many other markets, such as group tour, sports-focused, outdoor enthusiasts and history buffs, the LGBT community is just one of the audiences we attempt to reach with our tourism promotion dollars and public relations efforts.”
Offutt said the CVB has run ads with Instinct, a monthly magazine geared toward gay men, and this summer is running banner ads on OutTraveler.com (“The Standard of Gay Travel”). She said the ads “are not specific to honeymoons,” but instead “are geared more generally to family or couple’s vacations.”
The SCOTUS decision will also make job transfers and retirement easier for same-sex couples who wish to relocate but were afraid of problems due to the difference in marriage law from state to state, according to Reinsch.
“It gives people more options to live their lives the way they want to without having to worry about the state recognizing their marriages,” she said.
“Now folks who live in places like Ohio can feel comfortable living there without having to try to find new places to live.”