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Report: Marriage equality in Illinois could add $103 million to state’s economy

Thursday, March 7, 2013
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Extending marriage to same-sex couples in Illinois would generate up to $103 million in spending to the state and local economy, according to a study released by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.

“Marriage equality creates a measurable economic boost for the states that enact it,” according to Williams Institute Public Policy Fellow Angeliki Kastanis.

“In a time of high unemployment rates and cash-strapped state and local budgets, extending marriage for same-sex couples will positively impact Illinois’ wedding and tourism industry, while bringing in much-needed tax revenue,” she said.

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 23,049 same-sex couples live in Illinois. Of those couples, the Institute estimates that 50 percent (11,525 couples) would choose to marry in the first three years, a pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere.

Of the couples that will marry, 64 percent of those marriages will occur during the first year, 21 percent in the second year and 15 percent in the third year.

In the first three years of extending marriage to same-sex couples, the study estimates that:

  • 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.

The report also takes into account the couples who have already celebrated their marriage elsewhere and the estimated 5,472 Illinois resident couples who have already entered into civil unions. Should these couples forgo spending on a wedding ceremony or celebration, the estimates of the business impact would be somewhat lower, increasing spending by $54 million and generating 147 jobs.

This report does not include spending estimates for out-of-state same-sex couples that might travel to Illinois to marry.

The study, conducted by Kastanis and M.V. Lee Badgett, Williams Institute Research Director and Professor of Economics at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, is available here (PDF).

The Illinois Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, was approved by the House Executive Committee last week and awaits a vote by the full House; the bill, which would legalize same-sex marriage in Illinois, was approved by the state Senate on Fed. 14.

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