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Same-sex marriage is good for the economy.

After the Illinois governor signs legislation next week approving same-sex marriage, Wisconsin will be nearly surrounded by states that allow same-sex marriage. An overlooked (and let’s face it, kind of unromantic) aspect of the growth in the number of states that allow same-sex marriage is that those states benefit from a small but important boost to their economies – a boost that Wisconsin won’t be sharing any time soon.

Next week, the Illinois governor is slated to sign a measure that makes same-sex marriage legal in that state. That move will bring the total number of states that allow same-sex marriage to 16, including our neighboring states of Minnesota and Iowa.

Wisconsin’s Constitution defines marriage as between one man and one woman, so Wisconsin won’t be joining the states that allow same-sex marriage in the near future. Too bad, because that means we will miss out on some of the economic benefits that go hand in hand with same-sex marriage – like the ones that Illinois will be experiencing.

Extending marriage to same-sex couples in Illinois is expected to generate up to $103 million in spending for the state and local economy in the first three years, according to a report from the UCLA School of Law: $74 million in increased wedding business and $29 million in tourism expenditures made by out of town guests. That increased economic activity would likely add $8.5 million in tax revenue to state and local coffers.

Other states that extended marriage benefits to same-sex couples also benefitted from increased economic activity: Minnesota’s move was predicted to bring an estimated $42 million to the state and local economy, and generate an additional $3 million in taxes. Likewise, Iowa was predicted to enjoy an economic boost of $12 to $13 million from same-sex marriage.

Ah, love.

Officials in neighboring states are getting wise to the idea that same-sex marriage could generate economic benefits. Minneapolis Mayor R. T. Rybak declared 2013 as the “summer of love” in his city, and visited Wisconsin encouraging same-sex couples to get married in Minneapolis…and spend their wedding-related dollars there, too. This Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article has more information on the mayor’s “Marry Me in Minneapolis” promotion.

Of course, policymakers who favor extending marriage benefits to same-sex couples don’t usually stake their position on the increased economic activity that can result. But those extra dollars pumped into the economy make for a nice little side benefit. Our neighboring states of Illinois, Minnesota, and Iowa will soon all be enjoying that benefit. Wisconsin will not. 

Photo by Kevin Wong released under a Creative Commons license.