Report: Marriage equality can boost Virginia economy by $60 million

gay-equalityExtending marriage to lesbian and gay couples in Virginia would generate up to $60 million in spending to the state economy according to a report released today by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

“This report clearly shows that allowing lesbian and gay couples to marry in Virginia is not only the right thing to do, but would also have a positive impact on our economy,” said James Parrish, executive director of Equality Virginia.

According to 2010 U.S. Census, the most recent data available, 14,244 same-sex couples live in Virginia. Of those couples, the Williams Institute estimates that 50 percent (7,122 couples) would choose to marry in the first three years, a pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere. Nearly 5,000 marriages would occur in the first year alone, and bring up to $38 million in revenue to the state of Virginia that year.

Key findings include:

  • Direct spending by resident same-sex couples on their weddings would add an estimated $39 million to $50 million to the state and local economy over the first three years.
  • An estimated three year total $8 million to $10 million would be spent in Virginia by out-of-state guestsattending weddings of same-sex couples.
  • The total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism would generate an additional $46 million to $60 million to the state and local economy in the first three years, with $30 million to $38.5 million generated in the first year alone.
  • This economic boost would likely add $2.5 million to $3.2 million tax dollars to state and local coffers.
  • Wedding-related spending and tourism would generate approximately 459 to 595 new jobs in Virginia over the first three years.

As the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals prepares to hear oral arguments next month in Bostic vs. Schaefer, married gay and lesbian couples across the commonwealth will gather their friends and families together at CookOUTs for Marriage Equality.  The CookOUTs are organized by Equality Virginia and are a way to celebrate the thousands of marriages that Virginia refuses to recognize, and to show the rest of Virginia that there is widespread support among Virginians for marriage equality.

“Our ban on marriage is out-of-step with the majority of Virginians who support marriage equality,” said Parrish.  “The ban is not only hurting loving lesbian and gay couples in Virginia – it is also hurting our economy. This report shows thatall Virginians would benefit from marriage equality.”

The study is available here.

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