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Study: Legalizing Gay Marriage Would Pump $53M Into Michigan’s Economy

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DETROIT (WWJ) - A new study claims that legalizing gay marriage in Michigan would pump more than $53 million into the state’s economy.

Researchers at the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law say the Great Lake State would see an economic boost as same-sex couples plan their weddings and when their out-of-state guests come to town.

Based on census data and experiences in other states, the researchers estimated that nearly 7,300 same-sex couples would tie the knot within the first three years if Michigan legalized gay marriage.

The total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by same-sex couples and their guests would add an estimated $53.2 million to the state and local economy over the course of three years, researchers say, with a $34.1 million boost in the first year alone. This economic boost would add $3.2 million in sales tax revenue to state coffers.

Spending related to same-sex couples’ wedding ceremonies and celebrations would also create up to 457 jobs in the tourism and recreation sector for the state, according to the study.

So, how did they come up with these figures?

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, the most recent data available, 14,598 same-sex couples live in Michigan. Researchers figured half of those couples would choose to marry, based on patterns observed in other states that have legalized same-sex unions.

Researchers also figured same-sex couples would spend an average of $5,771 per wedding — one-quarter of the amount that heterosexual couples spend on wedding arrangements. They also estimated that each wedding would be attended by 16 out-of-state guests.

Based on the study, in the first three years:

  • Marriages by Same-Sex Couples — 7,299
  • Wedding Spending — $42,122,529
  • Out-of-State Guest Spending — $11,094,480
  • Total Combined Spending — $53,217,009
  • Total Sales Tax Revenue — $3,193,021

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The study says allowing out-of-state same-sex couples to wed in Michigan would provide a further boost to the state’s economy.

“This study confirms that all Michiganders benefit from marriage for same-sex couples, not just the LGBT community,” M.V. Lee Badgett, one of the study’s authors, said in a statement.

The fate of Michigan’s gay marriage ban is currently sitting with judges at the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Voters in 2004 approved a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. But two Detroit-area nurses are challenging the ban as unconstitutional, as well as a state law that bars them from adopting each other’s kids.

Rowse and April DeBoer, who seek to marry, are raising three adopted children with special needs. They filed a lawsuit back in 2012, hoping to strike down a state law that bars same-sex partners from adopting each other’s kids. The case was groundbreaking on its own, but a judge suggested challenging the gay marriage ban.

The case went to court and Michigan’s ban on gay marriage was declared unconstitutional in March by Detroit federal Judge Bernard Friedman. Clerks in four counties opened their offices for special Saturday hours and more than 300 couples were married before the appeals court suspended the ruling a day later.

If the ban is overturned, other laws, such as the adoption restriction, likely would fall, too.

Gay marriage is legal in 19 states and the District of Columbia.

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