Gay marriage could boost Minnesota economy by $45 million, says report

Gay marriage could boost Minnesota economy by $45 million, says report
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The Williams Institute, a think tank at UCLA's law school, is trying to quantify the impact of same-sex marriage in terms that everyone can understand: Money. According to the institute's latest study, a marriage equality law would give Minnesota's economy a lift to the tune of $45 million in the first three years.

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To reach that figure, the report's two authors started out with the number of same-sex couples living in Minnesota -- 10,207 per the 2010 U.S. Census. In states that allow for same-sex weddings, about 50 percent of the gay couples in the state tied the knot within three years of legalization, the researchers found.

In Minnesota, that would mean 4,946 new marriage licenses. And it would also mean a lot of spending to go along with them.

Gay couples getting hitched would contribute $28 million in additional wedding spending and $14 million in out-of-town guests' tourism expenditures, the report found, as well as approximately 283 in-state jobs. State and local tax revenues would rise by $3 million, two-thirds of which would come in the first year.

That's just the couples that live in Minnesota, not same-sex couples from the states nearby. "As was seen after marriage for same-sex couples was legalized in Iowa," the report notes, "same-sex couples from neighboring states that do not allow same-sex couples to marry may to travel to Minnesota and generate additional spending on wedding and tourism-related goods and services."

But these benefits won't be around forever, one of the study's authors noted in a statement on Monday. "Marriage equality creates a measurable economic boost for the jurisdictions that enact it," said M.V. Lee Badgett, the institute's research director and a professor of economics at University of Massachusetts, Amherst. "But if states don't use it, they may lose it... many of these wedding-related expenditures will be made elsewhere."

Badgett expanded on the big-picture economic benefits of gay marriage in a PBS NewsHour essay at the end of March. Those would include the increased federal tax rate on married couples and the savings gained from being able to access a spouse's insurance plan.

Last month, the institute published a similar report that looked at how same-sex marriage would impact Illinois's economy. There, the financial gains would be even greater. If Illinois legalized marriage equality, increased spending could generate up to $103 million, the analysis found. Another, earlier study assessed the economic boost for Iowa based not on likely projections, but on the actual number of same-sex weddings in the year following the April 2009 decision to allow them.

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