(LOS ANGELES) – The Williams Institute released this week a new study estimating the financial impact of New Jersey extending marriage to same-sex couples. The report estimates that extending marriage to same-sex couples would boost the New Jersey economy by almost $200 million during the next three years, creating approximately 1,400 jobs and generating over $15 million in revenues for the state budget.
The estimate, based on Census Bureau data, includes data from states that have extended marriage to same-sex couples, and a recent survey of Massachusetts gay couples asking them to report how much they spent on their weddings.
This is the fourth analysis of the fiscal impact of extending the rights and obligations of marriage to same-sex couples conducted by the Williams Institute for New Jersey. Prior studies analyzed the impact of New Jersey's domestic partnership and civil union laws. In the summer of 2008, the Institute presented an analysis of the fiscal impact of marriage to the New Jersey Civil Union Commission.
"The new report takes into account the changing legal landscape and the recession," says study co-author Brad Sears, Executive Director of the Williams Institute. "When we conducted our last analysis in 2008, New Jersey would have only competed with one other state in attracting out-of-state same-sex couples seeking to marry. Now same-sex couples can marry in five other states."
The recession has also reduced the amount that couples in the United States and New Jersey spend, on average, on their weddings.
Sears testified about the new analysis before the New Jersey Senate Judiciary Committee on Monday, December 7. The marriage legislation was passed by a 7-6 vote.
The new report also takes into account that New York same-sex couples now have a greater incentive to come to New Jersey to marry. "While the legislature did not extend marriage to same-sex couples this month, the New York Court of Appeals recently upheld the decision of state agencies to recognize the relationships of New York same-sex couples who marry in other states" says study co-author Christopher Ramos. "This makes it likely that many New York couples will make the short trip to New Jersey to marry."
This new estimate only includes direct spending by same-sex couples on their weddings, and tourism spending by out-of-state couples who travel to marry in New Jersey and the guests of in-state couples who marry. It does not include spending by family members and friends on gifts or by those traveling within New Jersey to attend weddings. The estimate also does not include the standard multiplier for tourism spending, that each $1 spent in the state generates over $2 in additional spending.
"If these factors are taken into account," says Sears, "the total impact on the New Jersey could be close to half a billion dollars.