Texas gay marriage could mean $181 million boost

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Thoughts of the rights fight over marriage equality in Texas may lead some to wedding daydreams. That’s the part that hits the state in the wallet and makes opponents take notice. A new study just pulled the purse strings.

The report from the Williams Institute for LGBT Research at UCLA School of Law shows that at least half of the 46,401 gay Texas couples reporting to the 2010 U.S. Census would marry within the first three years of legal marriage equality.

Texas could add $181 million to its economy over three years if it allowed same-sex couples to marry.

The study predicts that more than 23,000 same-sex couples in Texas would marry within three years if the state allowed them to. The legalization of gay marriage would mean a surge in gay weddings, the study estimates, creating a nearly $15 million boost to sales tax revenue over three years. 

The results are based on a model of behavior in other states like California and Massachusetts after they legalized same-sex unions. Couples there spent an average $7,800 each on licenses, wedding flowers, cakes and venues, and sales taxes on all of it. The study says that nearly 15,000 couples would tie the knot in the first year alone.

Need more ammo for the next family get-together with Uncle Jesse? The income estimates just grow if the divisive issue is settled before neighboring states, one of the study’s authors tells Texas Tribune.

The economic impact would likely be greater if Texas extended marriage rights to gay couples ahead of states like Louisiana and Oklahoma, because the state could become a wedding destination for same-sex couples in the entire region, said Christy Mallory, one of the study's authors. But chances are slim that conservative Texas lawmakers would allow same-sex marriage unless the courts force states to do so.

The folks at the Williams Institute know a thing or two about pushing buttons with hard facts. Their research sets the standard for gay data, including making sense out of gays in the Census, HIV stigma, and lesbian moms. So when they say that Texas as a gay marriage destination could bring millions to the state, you – and everybody – can pretty much bank on it.

Sadly, it’s probably a ways off. Even though there’s much to be hopeful for, every bigot who’s any bigot from current Gov. Rick Perry and Attorney General Greg Abbott on down will fight change tooth and nail

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