What a difference ten years makes. The Nevada Marriage Amendment passed in 2000 by a 69.62% in favor to only 30.38% in favor of same sex marriage, [Ballot] and when the measure was put before the voters in 2002 the percentages were almost identical, 67.2% in favor of a ban on same sex marriages and 32.8% in favor. [Ballot] Popular opinion has taken a dramatic shift — when the Retail Association of Nevada polled the concept last month 54% called for repealing the amendment. Only one subset, those over 65, preferred to support the amendment. [LVSun]
There are several arguments in favor of repealing the ban on same sex marriages, ranging from the moral and theological to the purely mercenary. Since this blog generally takes an interest in economics, let’s explore those mercenary aspects first.
When the state of Illinois was considering enacting same sex marriage statutes the Williams Institute (UCLA Law) studied the economic aspects and reported:
“The state’s wedding business would see an increase by $74 million, and an increase of $29 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests over the same period. Total state and local tax revenue would rise by $8.5 million, including an estimated $1-2 million in local sales taxes. The first year would produce $5.4 million of this spending. The boost in wedding spending will generate approximately 281 jobs in the state.” [WilliamsInst]
The measure to allow same sex marriage passed the Illinois House and now sits in the state House awaiting a vote. [POL]
Five years after the Massachusetts same sex marriage provisions were enacted the numbers are in: “Nearly half of married same-sex couples in Massachusetts spent $5,000 or more on wedding-related expenses. Nearly one-tenth spent over $20,000. ” and “Same-sex couples averaged 16 out-of-state guests at their weddings, and a quarter of them had 21 out-of-state guests. ” [MassLive] Those would be guests, as in people in hotels and resorts. No, we can’t assume that this has created an economic boom, but it every little bit helps.
New York’s gay marriage laws boosted the New York City income by $259 million in the first year. [CNN money]
So, here we sit with wedding chapels galore, with a tourism based state economy, and we’re NOT considering allowing gay marriages?
State Senator Tick Segerblom (D-LV) has introduced a bill to repeal Nevada’s ban on gay marriages, SJR 13, to repeal the limitations on marriages in Nevada. The resolution is currently co-sponsored by Spearman, Parks, Atkinson, Ford, Denis, Kihuen, Manendo, Woodhouse, Elliot Anderson, Ohrenschall, Martin, Healey, Aizley, Hogan, Swank . Here’s hoping support for this bill increases.
We’ve already determined that same sex coupled exist, and should be allowed the benefit of civil unions. For some opponents of the repeal that should be enough. However, doesn’t this sound ominously like saying to a mixed race couple — “You can have a civil union, but you cannot marry?” Then there’s the religious argument, “Same sex marriage violates God’s plan.”
There are uses and misuses of religion, and Geoffrey Stone’s insightful article in the Huffington Post summarizes the misuse of religion in American society:
“During the civil rights struggle, for example, segregationists frequently invoked biblical authority for the separation of the races. The Rev. James E. Burks of Bayview Baptist Church in Norfolk, Virginia, for example, insisted that God had separated the races and that “when man sets aside the plain teachings” of the Bible and “disregards the boundary lines God Himself has drawn, man assumes a prerogative that belongs to God alone.” Similarly, discrimination against women was often justified by reference to “divine ordinance.” Such arguments have no place in the American constitutional system.”
The violation of religious principles argument is often employed to support the ban on same sex marriage. It is contended that if we enact same sex marriage laws, then we are violating the freedom of religious practices. No, if anything is violated it’s the power of one segment of our religious population to impose their views on everyone else. This is NOT discrimination, and the fundamentalists are not being victimized. They are perfectly free to practice their religions, they are just not perfectly free to impose their beliefs on the rest of us.
Again, from Stone’s article:
“I understand and respect the strong and sincere feelings of those who think that the marriage of same-sex couples is incompatible with their religious beliefs. But they cannot legitimately or with a proper respect for the American system of law and justice attempt to impose those beliefs on those who disagree. They have every right not to marry a person of the same-sex and they have every right not to officiate at the marriage of a same-sex couple, but they have no right — no right — to attempt to prevent the government from recognizing such marriages because they offend their religious beliefs.”