Tag Archives: gay marriage

There were some weddings in Las Vegas

Rainbow Flag 2 Some couples got married in Las Vegas, NV yesterday, a headline which now joins “Dog bites man,” and “Spring Flowers Bloom” in the archives of conspicuous banality.   The question in Nevada shifted from “could it ever happen?” to “will it happen?” to “how come it has taken so long?”  [more from Ralston]

Conservatives who are still uncomfortable with the idea of letting a relatively small number of homosexual citizens in the state take on the joys and obligations of marriage may not take much comfort in the thought that part of their message over the last 30 years has been received:  Government should not intrude on our private lives.  And, when we’re talking about truly private matters – who can argue with that?

It’s never been a simple matter to claim religious authority in the public sphere.  It’s especially difficult in a country in which initial religious practice ranged from the Brownists in Plymouth – marriage was an invention of man without scriptural authority, to Catholics in Maryland – marriage was a sacrament. [CJPH]   However, it’s also never been a simple matter to avoid entangling religious beliefs and political ideologies – witness the Rovian formula welding Patriotism and Christianity for the benefit of the Republican Party.

The result has been a right wing conglomeration of the fiscal ultra-conservative (Grover Norquist) added to the religious ultra-conservative (Patriot Pastors) mixed with the military/financial interests (Koch Brothers, Wall Street).  At some point the seams start ripping.

Small But Not Too Small?

It’s impossible to have “small government” if the government is tasked with supervising individual sexual behaviors.  It’s impossible to have “small government” if the government is charged with executing statutes on family matters and women’s individual healthcare decisions.

It’s impossible to have “small government” while maintaining a military budget of at least $682 billion – as large as the combined military budgets of the next ten highest national budgets combined. [WaPo]  And, it’s impossible to have “small government” if we also want to secure fiscal and economic stability.  We tried ‘de-regulation’ and what we got was Enron and Lehman Brothers – and the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression of the 1930s.

Now the frazzle shows up in the religious realm.  It’s now impossible to anchor a political ideology on a  floating buoy – public opinion has moved remarkably on same sex marriages in the last decade.  What was a useful wedge issue in 2004 has become something to avoid in 2014.  Witness the palaver over Blundermeister John Boehner’s decision to campaign on behalf of a gay Republican in California? [TDB]

No majority is ever permanent. No radical ideology is ever secure.

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Filed under Nevada politics, privacy, religion, Republicans, Rove

Wedding Bells and Slot Ca-Ching

Las Vegas Wedding Chapel

Marriage for everyone will happen sooner or a little bit later in Nevada, either the Federal courts will strike down Nevada’s restrictive marriage provisions or the efforts to pass Joint Resolution 13 will be ultimately successful. [more at LVRJ]   Aside from the tenuous arguments offered by the right wing Coalition for the Protection of Marriage, there aren’t many reasons to oppose Marriages, Lots and Lots and Lots of Marriages in Nevada.

Let’s start with the 100 or so marriage chapels in the Las Vegas area, in addition to the ones in the Reno/Sparks area.  And, we are not discussing nickels and dimes here:

“According to economist M.V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA, legalizing gay marriage would generate $23 million to $52 million in business revenue and $1.8 million to $4.2 million in tax revenue over the next three years in Nevada.”  [LVSun]

Ca-Ching! Additionally, there’s a hint in the Las Vegas Sun article about the nature of tourism in Nevada when one person interviewed said, “Las Vegas is an event town.”   It’s time to consider a Tale of Two Cities?

The Boardwalk or walking the plank?

Atlantic City, NJ is about to witness the closing of more casinos and the opening of a massive unemployment filing “event” in the Atlantic City Convention Center. [StarLedger]  There were 12 casinos in the city and now there will be 8, with about 8,000 people looking for work.  The reason might be said to be in gaming revenues, $5 billion in 2006, down to $2.6 billion today. [BusIns]  This is true, in part, and true, but other factors need to be included in the discussion.

Regional Competition:  Bally’s opened in Atlantic City in 1979.  Foxwood didn’t exist, the Mohegan Sun Casino Resort didn’t either.  The casino business hadn’t expanded to Pennsylvania, Connecticut, and Maine.  Even New York is getting into the act at the Aqueduct . Atlantic City was going to be the Las Vegas of the East? Gaming was going to be recession proof, and Atlantic City’s casinos were going to give Vegas a run for its money?  However, the loss of jobs,  the stagnation of wages, the increasing number of people employed in part-time jobs with lower incomes dispelled the recession-proof myth amidst a wave of regional competition.

Atlantic City may want to blame its problems on regional competition, but it may be missing another crucial point – one illustrated by the simple declaration that Las Vegas is an Event Town.

Las Vegas also faces regional competition.  California has 68  Native American casinos, and another 90 poker casinos.  [500Nations] Since Nevada’s proximity to a well populated state is often given as a reason for the success of its gaming industry why didn’t the opening of regional competition create the same financial havoc for Las Vegas and environs?

The Fine Art of Reinvention

Yes, once upon a time the casinos in Las Vegas only needed to be… casinos. Busloads of $60 bettors could keep the slots jingling and the tables occupied.  However, since Nevada could never rely on its own population to keep those slots ringing and tables filled, there’s a history (and plenty of practice) of selling ourselves as an entertainment option.

Remember the old Sands? The Alladin? The Jackpot? The original Hacienda? The Stardust?  The Desert Inn and the Dunes?  There’s nothing like a lovely implosion, demolition, and re-construction to illustrate how Las Vegas kept the travelers coming.  If some venue is getting out of style, away from the trends, behind in the  running for entertainment dollars – then it’s time for the implosion, and the demolition, and the re-construction.  Where else but Las Vegas might one expect guided tours of a Sign Cemetery (otherwise known as the Neon Museum?) However, there’s more to the process than just a periodic facelift to keep the dowagers functioning.

Nevada understood, and still seems to understand, that we are competing for people’s entertainment dollars.   If we consider eating as a form of entertainment, then the city with the most variety can be predicted to land in the winners side of the ledger.  Pity Atlantic City, with the world class restaurants and neighborhood bistros of Manhattan next door, trying to compete with the gourmet and specialty fare in New York City. 

On the other side of the country,  there’s Joel Robuchon’s  on the Strip, complete with a celebrity chef, and a menu which will take a couple of Benjamins out of the billfold, next door to ….. ?  For every Zagat rated restaurant there are others, renovated to appeal to the Three Star budget, a trend across the country as the competition for that entertainment dollar becomes hotter. [CEM]

And, that’s the point – those entertainment dollars – Do people want an iPad gaming lounge? – then renovate and build one.  Do people want a more varied assortment of entertainment? – then book it.   Frank Fahrenkopf, Jr. summed it up:

“Today, F&B and entertainment options within casinos have become the great differentiators in our market.  Today’s typical casino customer does not come to Las Vegas merely to gamble.  In fact, many do not gamble at all.  Instead, celebrity chefs, star entertainers, innovative menus, luxurious rooms and level of service – both on and off the casino floor – distinguish each property.”

And, might we add – Weddings?  If Nevada can re-invent and re-construct its casinos, renovate and transform its restaurants, even figure out how to make a tourist destination out of a lot-load of old neon signs – then it can surely consider adding another reason for people to spend those entertainment dollars in Las Vegas and elsewhere – more weddings!  Where else could the happy couple – of any and all gender orientations – experience an Elvis Wedding, A Hot August Nights Wedding, A Doo Wop Reception, or a really creative Halloween Wedding?   Make your wedding a real event –  after all, Las Vegas is an “event town.” * Please remember to bring your checkbook, cash, and credit cards.

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Filed under Economy, gay issues, Nevada economy, nevada taxation

SJR 13: Repeal Ban On Same Sex Marriage In Nevada

gay wedding cakeWhat 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.”

Amen.

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Filed under Nevada economy, Nevada politics