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$88 million financial gain from gay marriage

When Governor Chris Gregoire makes history by legalizing same-marriage, she’ll also help florists, wedding planners, jewelers and venue operators make an estimated $88 million dollars in the first three years that gay marriage is legal.

The Williams Institute, a pro-gay marriage think tank with the UCLA School of Law, studied the economic impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples in Washington and expects there would be a $57 million boost in the first year alone. This economic boost is likely to add $8 million in tax revenue to state and local budgets.

As a conservative estimate, if all of the 7,518 existing Washington couples registered as domestic partners were to marry without holding a celebration, the estimated increase in wedding spending would be lower, or approximately $18 million over the first three years.

The Williams Institute report estimates 9,500 same-sex couples in Washington will choose to marry in the next three years. The average spending on weddings in our state in 2010 was $25,414. They estimate wedding spending for same-sex couples will be much lower, at $6,350 per wedding.

The report, completed last month, does not include spending estimates for out-of-state gay couples that might travel to Washington in order to marry, spending additional funds on wedding planning and tourism during their brief stay. Those numbers could be significant. They estimate there are 129,133 same-sex couples with the five states closest to Washington.

When Governor Gregoire signs marriage equality legislation Monday morning at 11:30, Washington will become the seventh state to allow gay marriage. Others states that legalized same-sex marriage have also had economic gains.

Over 12,000 same-sex marriages performed in Massachusetts since 2004 have brought more than $111 million into the state’s economy.

An analysis by New York City comptroller’s office concluded that the state’s economy would gain up to $210 million by this year, 2012, with legal same-sex marriage.


Clyde Phillips-Frey, left hand, and Nathan Phillips-Frey, right hand, after their marriage in Niagara Falls, NY last summer. AP Photo

Before Washington’s law takes effect, it will likely face a referendum challenge in November. Same-sex marriage supporters have yet to win at the ballot box when the issue has been put to a statewide vote elsewhere.

By Linda Thomas

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