A few weeks ago, I was walking across my university campus when a young man with a clipboard stopped me to sign a petition to legalize the sale of marijuana. He had many scripted arguments to try to gain support for this petition, but he focused on the economic impact. He discussed the enormous economic impact seen in the short time since Colorado legalized the sale of marijuana. That discussion reminded me of the reports published by the Williams Institute at UCLA detailing the economic impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples.
Same-sex marriage remains a contentious issue throughout the United States, and we need to use diverse approaches when trying to persuade those state and federal government officials and voters who are still unsure whether they should be in support. The Williams Institute approaches same-sex marriage and other LGBTQ issues through law and public policy research. They detail their findings in a vast collection of reports. Included in their collection of reports are those that describe the economic impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples.
Although these reports probably go unnoticed by most people, they can be significant when persuading government officials and voters who are on the fence of supporting same-sex marriage. As state governments continue to face financial woes, the prospect of bringing revenue to the state and to local businesses grabs the attention of people. The economic impact reports published by the Williams Institute might have that grab effect. For example, the Williams Institute projects that extending marriage to same-sex couples in Colorado would generate $50 million in spending to the state and local economy. Other projections include $20.4 million in New Mexico, $42 million in Minnesota, and $103 million in Illinois. Although they do not have reports for every state, I urge you to look at the list by state: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/economic-impact-reports-by-state/
These reports make it apparent that the potential economic impact is enormous to those states that extend marriage to same-sex couples. Many of these reports also detail the economic impact to taxes. There are many other economic impacts that are not as easily calculated, such as the cost of illness to those who are not covered by their partner’s health insurance.
I wonder how many people signed the young man’s marijuana petition based on the economic impact argument. Also, I wonder if the economic impact was a major influence to Colorado voters and government officials who supported the law legalizing the sale of marijuana. If the economic impact factor did in fact sway voters and officials on that issue, a similar approach for same-sex marriage might be worth trying.
For more information on the Williams Institute: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/