Gay marriage in Ga. would bring $78 million boost

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Thousands of gay couples in Georgia would marry in the first year that same-sex marriage is legal, providing an economic boost of more than $50 million to the state's struggling economy, according to a new study.

The report from the Williams Institute for LGBT Research at UCLA School of Law, released Thursday, breaks down the massive economic impact of legalizing gay marriage in Georgia. It's not as big of a boost as Texas would see, but still:

We predict that 10,659 in-state same-sex couples would choose to marry in the three years following an opening of marriage to same-sex couples in Georgia.

The total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests would add an estimated $78.8 million to the state and local economy of Georgia over the course of three years, with a $50.4 million boost in the first year alone.

This economic boost would add $5.5 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers.

Spending related to same-sex couples’ wedding ceremonies and celebrations would create 329 to 988 jobs in the tourism and recreation sector for the state.

Of course, that's if and when gay marriage becomes legal in the state. A federal lawsuit hopes to undo the ban, though Attorney General Sam Olens is fighting it.

But the millions the state could see makes tourism officials in Atlanta just giddy.

“As the world’s most welcoming city, Atlanta’s diversity and commitment to equality make it an ideal location for weddings,” William Pate, president and CEO of the Atlanta Convention & Visitor's Bureau, says in a press release issued by Georgia Equality. “We rely on out-of-state guests to visit our hotels, restaurants, shops and attractions to fuel our $13-billion hospitality industry and support more than 230,000 jobs.”

Jeff Graham, Georgia Equality's executive director, says the new report shows that gay marriage is “good for business.”

“Not only is marriage good for families and children, but this report also proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that marriage is good for business, too,” Graham says in the release. “As we continue to have the important conversation about what marriage means and why it matters, Georgians are rapidly coming to the conclusion that it is wrong to single out and exclude same-sex couples from marriage. We simply cannot afford to miss out on the opportunity to make the State of Georgia a more welcoming place to live, raise a family, and start or grow a business.”

Graham and Georgia Equality supporters delivered more than 3,000 petitions to Olens last month urging him to drop his defense of the state marriage ban. Or at least tried to. State troopers wouldn't let the coalition past security barriers in the building where Olens works.

Photo by Sher Pruitt


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