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Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Gay marriage could add $500M to NJ economy, panel told

by Robert Schwaneberg/The Star-Ledger
Wednesday June 18, 2008, 3:37 PM

New Jersey could boost its economy by more than half a billion dollars over the next three years by promptly legalizing same-sex marriage, a California law professor told a state commission today. Brad Sears, executive director of the Williams Institiute at UCLA School of Law, said gay weddings alone would pump $248 million into New Jersey's economy under a "very conservative" economic analysis. He said additional spending on gifts, overnight hotel stays by visiting friends and other items could boost the total to "a half billion dollars plus" over the next three years.

Sears testified before the New Jersey Civil Union Review Commission, which is exploring the economic impact of legalizing gay marriage. He said that by legalizing only civil unions for same-sex couples, New Jersey had incurred "all the costs without getting the main benefit" -- spending on wedding celebrations.

Last year the New York City Comptroller's Office calculated that allowing gays to marry would boost that city's economy by $142 million in the three years following legalization. That analysis found gay marriage would cost New York City employers $33 million in health insurance premiums for same-sex spouses, but that would be more than offset by spending on weddings.

It calculated those weddings -- many among same-sex couples from New Jersey and other states traveling to the Empire State to wed, would pump $175 million into New York City's economy. John Tomicki, chairman of the N.J. Coalition to preserve and protect marriage, said that argument could justify polygamy.

"To take that reasoning further you should be able to marry 10 people at a time and that would cause even larger receptions," Tomicki said. "The logic is rather silly."

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