Gay marriage proves lucrative for local economies

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By Zack Jenkins

A year ago New York City became the sixth state to legalize gay marriage. After 8,200 gay-marriage licenses were issued (some 10% of the wedding licenses issued in New York City last year) almost $259 million was earned in economic benefits from same-sex marriages according to Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s marketing and tourism office.

After New York Governor Andrew Cuomo signed the measure into law, more than 200,000 people have traveled to the state to attend same-sex wedding receptions, and have booked over 235,000 hotel room stays.  

In order to diversify the city’s economy, Bloomberg has focused on developing employment in leisure and hospitality. According to the Department of Labor, the city added more jobs (over 100,000) than it had in the last 10 years.

In 2011 the city attracted a record 50.5 million visitors that brought in some $48 billion. Bloomberg has set a goal of 55 million visitors by 2015. This would add 30,000 jobs and $70 billion in economic growth.

Other states have also seen an increase in the local economy after legalizing same-sex marriage thanks to wedding ceremony spending. A study from UCLA found a $111 million increase in revenue in Massachusetts in the first four years after legalizing gay marriage.

Considering the fact that New York’s population is three times that of Massachusetts, New York City’s Marketing and Tourism office has created a campaign called the “NYC I Do.” They hope to make the most populous city in the Unites States the top wedding and honeymoon destination for couples globally (both gay and straight).

“Marriage equality has made our city more open, inclusive and free – and it has also helped to create jobs and support our economy,” Bloomberg said at a news conference in Lower Manhattan.

“We’d love to have you come here,” he said immediately following the decision to legalize same-sex marriage. “Stay in a hotel. Buy flowers, clothes, meals or whatever. It’s good for the economy.”

The full statement from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reads:

“Today we celebrate the one year anniversary of marriage equality taking effect in New York State. This is both a day to celebrate and a day to reflect. One year ago, the Marriage Equality Act became a reality for same-sex couples upstate and downstate who had been living for decades with disparate treatment simply based on their sexual orientation.

Since then, thousands of same-sex couples have gotten married in New York and are now afforded thousands of benefits and protections that they were previously deprived of under state law, including health care and hospital visitation rights, pension benefits, property ownership, inheritance rights, and safeguards against loss or injury of a spouse.

New York has always been at the forefront of progressive reform and I am proud to serve as its Governor. We worked collaboratively with the Legislature to enact this law that once again defines New York as a bastion of equality. We hope that this effort inspires others to remove the vestiges of inequality and injustice that may still exist in laws and practices.

Today, New York welcomes everyone, no matter their sexual orientation, to marry the person they love. We are proud to, once again, light the torch for equality and justice for all.”

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