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Updated: Gay Marriage Would Be Big for Texas Economy, Study Finds

Update: Christy Mallory, senior counsel at the Williams Institute, told us in an email that in 2009 the institute examined the actual economic impact of gay marriage on Massachusetts - $111 million over the first four years following legalization.

That's smaller than the number the institute estimates in its Texas study, but Mallory said Texas has more same-sex couples. Here's the concentration of gay couples in the United States broken down by county, plus some other interesting numbers about gay couples.

Original post: Gay marriage probably won't be legalized in Texas until the Supreme Court makes the state do so. We do have a governor who compared homosexuality to alcoholism, after all.

But according to a study by the Williams Institute, if gay marriage were legal here in the Lone Star State, it'd be quite the financial boom.

The institute, a think tank housed in the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law, released a study Wednesday estimating the economic boost gay marriage legalization in Texas could provide. According to the study, Texas gay marriages would add an estimated $181.6 million in spending to state and local economies over three years, a boost of $14.8 million in sales tax revenue.

"All of the findings from previous studies suggest that extending marriage rights to same-sex couples produces a positive impact on states' budgets and economies," the researchers wrote in the report.

The folks at UCLA got that $181.6 million number by pulling financial data from a couple of places.

The study's authors found that average wedding spending in Texas in 2012 was $24,269, according to The Wedding Report. For gay marriages, the researchers decided the direct wedding spending for gay marriages would be $6,067 - a quarter of $24,269. The researchers assumed that parents of same-sex couples would provide less financial support for the gay weddings than the parents of heterosexual couples would for their child weddings.

If half of Texas' 46,401 gay couples - that number comes from the 2010 census - were to marry, that would result in $140.8 million in direct wedding spending.

The other $40.8 million comes from out-of-state guests. Based on a past report, the researchers estimated an average of 16 out-of-state guests to come to Texas gay weddings. The average amount those guests would spend came from food and lodging data from the U.S. General Services Administration.

 

And more spending means more jobs. The study estimates gay marriage to create between 523 and 1,570 jobs in Texas. (The large gap is due to jobs decreasing following the initial boom of marriages right after legalization.)

Now you might be saying, "They estimate half of all gay couples in Texas getting married? What about the ones that already married in other states that have legalized gay marriage?" That was taken into account.

According to the report, California, Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Florida are the five states that send the most visitors to Texas. Of those states, only California currently legalizes gay marriage. The study didn't factor in gay couples from Louisiana, Arkansas, Oklahoma and Florida -- there are 67,000 of them, according to the 2010 census -- that would travel to Texas to get married if Texas were to legalize gay marriage before their own states.

"A sizeable impact may occur if even a small number of those couples decide to travel to Texas to marry," the researchers wrote. "Thus, while we do not exclude from our analysis an estimate of Texas couples who may have already married in other states, that number is most likely offset, if not exceeded, by the number of out-of-state couples who will travel to Texas to marry, whom we also exclude."

You can find the full study here. In short version is Texas gay marriage legalization equals big bucks.


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