Study: Same-sex marriages could have $24 million impact on Arkansas economy


FORT SMITH, Ark. — Supporters of same-sex marriage say legalizing the unions could benefit the Arkansas economy by $24 million.

ArkansasA Nerdwallet report based on data from Gallup and the Wedding Report predicts that couples will spend more time planning weddings and also spend more money – and that marriages would continue to occur, the Southwest Times Record reported.

“The most interesting thing to me about the report is the longevity aspect of it,” said Jeremy Woody, a founding board member of the River Valley Equality Center in Fort Smith. “Straight people will continue to have gay children and they will be with someone.”

The average Arkansas wedding costs $22,364, according to the report.

Marriage licenses were issued to 541 same-sex couples in Arkansas for a week in May after a judge overturned a voter-imposed ban; the first went to a Fort Smith couple who married in Eureka Springs.

The state Supreme Court later directed clerks to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples so it could review the lower court’s decision. In a separate case, a federal judge this week declared the ban unconstitutional but put her ruling on hold pending an appeal.

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Woody said he and his partner Brad Martin would like to get married in Fort Smith. They have been together for five years, and engaged for three, he said.

The Nerdwallet report said that while many initial marriages occurred quickly at courthouses after judges’ rulings, that won’t always be the case.

“When same-sex marriage has been legal for several years, our assumption is couples will be able to spend more time planning their weddings, and they spend more money on the ceremony,” the report said.

The Times Record also cited figures saying the impact would total $32.8 million in Oklahoma, where the typical wedding costs $23,112.

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