How to Save Your State Economy

Bring on the same-sex marriages!

A study issued this week by UCLA’s Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation and the Law projected that gay men and lesbians will spend $684 million on cakes, photographers and other services over the next three years unless voters reverse the high court’s ruling in the fall.

The researchers found that about half of the state’s more than 100,000 same-sex couples will get married during the next three years, and an additional 68,000 out-of-state couples will travel to California to exchange vows. The study estimated that over that period, gay weddings will generate $64 million in tax revenue for the state, $9 million in marriage-license fees for counties, and some 2,200 jobs.

You know, if I were in California and a proponent of same-sex marriages, these are figures that I would be putting into the ads against the anti-same-sex marriage proposition that’s going to be on the ballot this fall. And I would ask: why do those against same-sex marriage want to interfere with the livelihoods of thousands of decent, hard-working Californians and deprive them of millions of dollars of potential income? Why do they want to take the food out of the mouths of California families? Why do they make it harder for these folks to keep a roof over their heads, or pay their medical bills, or put their kids through college? Why do they want to deprive thousands of Californians jobs they could use, and that the state needs? $684 million’s not exactly chump change, particularly in a weak economy.

So, it’s not just a social issue involving gays and lesbians, it’s an economic issue involving the entire state — and those against same-sex marriage are essentially saying their discomfort with two people of the same sex exercising a right the California Supreme Court says they have is a good enough excuse to deprive other Californians not only of their rights, but of their money, too. And depriving hard-working citizens of their money, well. That’s un-American. What are these guys, commies? Probably. Probably, indeed.

In short: Same-sex marriage: Good for business, good for the economy, good for California. That’s how I would sell it.

40 Comments on “How to Save Your State Economy”

  1. While I agree with you completely on the issue of gay marriage – why the hell is it *my* business – Californians are not strangers to economic downturn issues. Most of us will laugh in your fact over a puny $64 million in tax revenues. Chump change. Hell, DMV wasted twice that on a computer upgrade they never even finished. Even the rull $700 million is chump change. All you’d really do is distract people away from the gay marriage issue in to a discussion of how stupid the legislature is. And Californians can talk about that *forever*.

  2. Well, there you have the difference. The pro-gay marriage side has facts, as well as basically decent moral traits like tolerance and compassion, to back up their view. The anti-gay marriage side has fear and bigotry and an unfortunate preference for relying on a collection of violent Bronze Age myths for their “morality.” Pointing to tangible benefits to both the economic health of the country as well as the happiness of a large portion of its citizenry just won’t get very far with a person whose mind has been brilloed by Leviticus and the angry rants of Paul.

  3. T.M. Wagner:

    You’re not trying to change the minds of people whose minds won’t change; you’re trying to point out to everyone else that the anti-same-sex marriage folks don’t care who else they hurt in order to express their homophobia, including Californians who are trying to make a living.

  4. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me
    Chang, in plain view of children

    All I know is that one can drink a hell of a lot of booze at lesbian weddings.

    Tons.

    Gallons.

  5. It makes sense to me– the whole point of any ad campaign is to sway the undecided. There are always some you’ll never get on your side so you have ignore them and work on those you can sway.

    Triage applies to politics too.

    If you ever watched M*A*S*H you know you use your resources on those you can make the most difference to. Ignore those you’ll never convert and leave the converted on the back burner. Focus on the swing vote.

    This will work on the swing vote.

  6. When has a reasoned, factual argument ever changed anyone’s mind when emotion and believe are involved?

    If you succeed at this, what’s next? Teaching “Fact” based science? Gender Equality? Multiculturalism? Whole Language?

    Madness.

  7. That’s not even taking the revenue from all of the potential marriages into account, John.

    We’re assured by social conservatives that same-sex marriage will weaken the institution and destroy marriages everywhere. Men will be divorcing their wives and marrying dogs, horses, kitchen appliances, etc. Have we counted the increased economic stimulus from those nw marriages? I mean a lot of man on dog marriages are going to be lavish. You’ve got the floral arrangements (up on expensive pedestals so the bride’s side of the family won’t wet on them), dog biscuits, and retaining the priest to say “Who’s going to love and cherish forever? Who? Who?.

    And don’t even get me started on the incestuous weddings we’re told will result. If you think your mother is overbearing about your wedding now, wait until you’re getting married to her.

    Also, I expect increased revenues generated by cultural conservatives in the form of replacing over-clutched pearls, fainting couches requiring new springs, laundering soiled undergarments, etc.

    Boom time!

  8. Lou, again: nobody’s trying to change the mind of the foaming ‘phobes. We’re mocking these idiots to the average person, the one who isn’t quite sure about this whole court thing and “why do they call it marriage”, but sure doesn’t mind that nice lesbian couple down the block who keeps their lawn neat. Because if the average person sees what selfish, ingrown bozos are trying to keep same-sex couples from marrying, they’ll probably vote against the initiative just to avoid being I’m With Stupid.

  9. Haven’t you heard? We don’t need gay marriage to enhance California state revenues. Arnold plans to bring in more cash by–and I’m not making this up–revamping the state lottery.

    Fortunately, primary and secondary education in this state are so poor that a constant stream of new lottery players is more or less assured.

  10. I would like to see them get this issue onto the ballot in Kansas just to watch a certain religous group with a serious case of homophobia flip their wigs. I know, I know, they have already flipped but this would be so funny to watch.

  11. As my husband so wisely notes, since the beginning of same-sex marriage here in Massachusetts in 2004, not a single person in the Commonwealth has been killed by lightning. :-) We find that kind of telling, in a Biblical sort of way.

  12. As for your arguments I have to point out a couple of things. First it is chump change for this State. Current news reports put the deficit at $15 billion. That’s BILLION with a B. Second what percentage of people in the wedding industry are gay? Think about it, florists, bakers, seamstresses, photographers, caterers. I suspect it is a fairly high percentage. I admit this is a very subjective observation and probably prejudicial but I know a couple of gay and people and they are in the industry. Except for the couple who are landscape architects. Point being they are the choir so to speak.(note the sneaky church refrence hehe)
    Bottom line for me is what freaking buisness is it of the States to decide who can commit their lives to each other and who can’t?

  13. Enjoying all the hyperinflated self-righteousness here… isn’t it nice when you’re just better than all the people you hate?

  14. The 40 Hour Creative – I'm here to help you be creative! I've written plays and created the web series THE CANADIANS (now on Amazon Prime), among other things. Seth Godin said 'start a blog,' so we'll see how long this lasts.
    Greg

    JJ, would you prefer to simply make a case against giving gay and lesbians have the same rights that straight couples do? I notice you didn’t even *try* to do that. Maybe that’s because there is no real case for bigotry.

  15. For my part, I’m all for selling off our organs — well, your organs. Don’t bore me with moralistic arguments. it’s all about the money. Are you uncomfortable with the idea? I’m only talking about extra organs. Otherwise it would be just crazy. Kidneys, lungs, gonads — the bilaterally symmetrical ones. All us rational folks understand how logical we are. The rest of them, well, they’re rubes.

    J

  16. #16: … isn’t it nice when you’re just better than all the people you hate?

    I don’t see any hate around here, just a bunch of people drowning in a sea of love, oblivious to whether the swimmers are of the same or different genders. And what could be more American than that?

  17. # JJon 11 Jun 2008 at 1:54 am

    “isn’t it nice when you’re just better than all the people you hate?”

    Why, since you were so nice to ask, JJ, it is. Yes… it surely is.

  18. Also, let’s not forget the marriage penalty for dual income families. Most gay couples I know would fall into that category. Allowing those couples to marry would increase income tax revenue.

  19. JJ, would you prefer to simply make a case against giving gay and lesbians have the same rights that straight couples do?

    No, I have no problem with gay marriage at all, just with pompous windbags who assume that anyone who opposes their point of view is stupid and evil.

  20. JJ:

    “No, I have no problem with gay marriage at all, just with pompous windbags who assume that anyone who opposes their point of view is stupid and evil.”

    Well, now that you mention it, JJ, I would suggest to you that people who would vote in November to destroy legal marriages that already exist (as possibly thousands would by that time), and also to deprive others of civil rights they currently enjoy under California law, would be committing an act that will be both stupid and evil. Which is not precisely the same as those people being stupid and evil in a general sense, but which does not speak well for their quality of character.

    Also, folks, it’s “same-sex marriage” not “gay marriage.” You don’t have to be gay under California law in order to marry someone of your own sex, it just helps.

  21. John: I’m not sure your argument is entirely valid. Presumably most of the people with that $684 million would’ve have spent or invested most of that money anyway.

    The 40% of couples coming from out-of-state will contribute to California’s economy, but I guess that, on average, they’ll spend less on their wedding in California than an average Californian because they’ll be spending some wedding money at home too.

  22. I’m against Righteous people who know that since their way is right, all other ways are wrong – therefore they must pass laws, commit wars, and even be diet Nazis to enforce their way.

    Let marriage be a sacrament, controlled by the churches. Let the state enforce contracts, real and implied – as they do with palimony and child support. But don’t require that my social security beneficiary be my spouse instead of my mother or my brother or my daughter or whomever I decide needs my help.

  23. David A. Harding:

    “Presumably most of the people with that $684 million would’ve have spent or invested most of that money anyway.”

    Why “presumably”? People might save the money (rather than spending it or investing it), or if they do save or invest it, it might be on objects and/or entities outside the State of California, meaning the benefit of spending/investing that money would go somewhere else, i.e., not into the pockets of Californian businesses (or into the state coffers via taxes).

    The salient issue here is that same-sex marriage benefits the Californian economy by benefiting Californian businesses (and Californian businesspeople).

  24. Caligula married a horse a long time ago.

    Well he did, but he married Incitatus to a mare; Caligula being Chief Priest of the Empire at the time was the officiant rather than bride or groom. Honestly, aren’t the bad things people said about Caligula at the time enough without making up more?

  25. Paul Barnes:

    That issue more to do with strengthening sexual orientation as a protected class under anti-discrimination law, although the equal legal status of gay and non-gay marriages will also cause issues. (The Mass. Catholic Church adoption issue is only gay marriage related because until then they could avoid said ordinances by simply limiting adoption to married couples, I think).

    There are a few major religious liberty issues here:
    1) Services performed by churches that they wish to limit in a way barred by anti-discrimination ordinances (the adoption issue).
    2) The tax-exemption status of discriminatory religious organizations (the Bob Jones University issue).
    3) Organziations receiving government subsidy being required to comply with equal-access/anti-discrimination laws (the Boy Scouts issue).

    For (3), given that it is a government subsidy and you can be on equal footing with the withdrawal of said subsidy, it’s less of an issue. I have no problem private organizations (such as the Boy Scouts) that are being subsidized at government expense (such as the Boy Scouts) being told to comply with such laws or stop being subsidized. This is even stronger with religious discrimination (the Boy Scout / Atheism issue).

    (2) Certainly purely religious organizations (churches) should be ignored here. Religious service organizations (adoption agencies, hospitals, etc) are a more complicated case, although I’m inclined to think a lot of freedom who they can hire without risking tax-exemption status. Although, this is still essentially a government subsidy issue.

    (1) is interesting and I’m not sure where I’d go with the legal enforcement here. But – c.f. the Bob Jones case and Catholic opposition to divorce – I think that here whenever we ask the question of “should organization be punished due to their policies against working with gay married couples”, we should be able to substitute “interracial married couples” and “divorced and remarried couples” in the play of “gay married couples” and see what that does to our thinking.

  26. John:

    “if they do save or invest it, it might be on objects and/or entities outside the State of California…”

    Some or most of the invested money is probably currently benefiting people outside California, but the couples are probably going to eventually want that money back — with interest — so they can spend it. Most people spend most of their money near where they live. Thus, Californians spend most of their money in California.

    “The salient issue here is that same-sex marriage benefits the Californian economy…”

    I agree, but I think you’re incorrectly claiming that allowing same-sex marriages will add $684 million to California’s economy. I agree that some money will be added, but most of the money will just be spent differently: every dollar spent on marriage is a dollar not spent somewhere else.

  27. David A. Harding:

    “Some or most of the invested money is probably currently benefiting people outside California, but the couples are probably going to eventually want that money back — with interest — so they can spend it. Most people spend most of their money near where they live. Thus, Californians spend most of their money in California.”

    Speaking as a former Californian, married to a former Californian, I can say you are making the assumption that people in a mobile society will spend their entire lives in one place, which is not in evidence. Likewise, you’re making the assumption that money spent later is from the point of view of the economy as good as money spent now, which is again not a point in evidence; if it were, the Federal government, for one, would not have sent the vast majority of taxpayers $600 to spend into the economy at the moment. Likewise, you also appear to be making the assumption that money not spent on weddings now (or in the next three years) would be spent on similar things later, with a similar benefit to the local economy, which is again not necessarily the case — the money not being spent on weddings, for example, might otherwise go into a gas tank, the primary beneficiaries of which would be an out-of-state petroleum concern and OPEC, rather than Joe’s Wedding Photography.

    “I think you’re incorrectly claiming that allowing same-sex marriages will add $684 million to California’s economy.”

    I don’t recall saying it will add that money to the Californian economy (although I do suggest that without it not all that money will make it directly into the state economy), and the news report I quote says “spend,” not “add.” So this might simply be a case of word confusion.

    Again, the larger point is that same-sex marriage is liable to provide California’s economy a direct and immediate boost, in terms of money going to Californians and their businesses, and that this boost won’t happen if same-sex marriage is outlawed.

  28. John:

    “if [money spent later is from the economy’s point of view as good as money spent now], the Federal government, for one, would not have sent the vast majority of taxpayers $600 to spend into the economy at the moment.”

    Are you appealing to authority? Are you appealing to our federal government as an authority? Are you saying that because the federal government does it, it must be right? Who are you, and what have you done with the real John Scalzi? :)

    “I don’t recall saying it will add that money to the Californian economy…”

    You didn’t say add, but just now you said:

    “same-sex marriage is liable to provide California’s economy a direct and immediate boost…”

    My dictionary (Merriam Webster’s Collegiate, 11th ed.) defines both ‘add’ and ‘boost’ as “increase”. Again: I’m not disagreeing with you about the effect, I’m disagreeing with you about the size of the effect. The Californian economy will not grow by $684 million because of legalized same-sex marriage; it will grow by a smaller, maybe much smaller, amount.

  29. “Are you saying that because the federal government does it, it must be right? Who are you, and what have you done with the real John Scalzi? :)”

    Shhhhh. You’re going to mess up the alien invasion!

  30. From the linked report: “The researchers found that about half of the state’s more than 100,000 same-sex couples will get married during the next three years”

    If so, they’ll be doing so at almost four times the gay marriage rate of Canada, which had about 15,000 same-sex marriages in the four years after legalization with a similar population base (Canada – 33.2 million, California – 35.5 million). Unless there’s some indication that the percentage of gay couples in California is 300% higher than our neighbor to the north, the article’s math is off.

    Although I suppose a rapid-enough succession of short marriages and divorces would work, too.

  31. Paul Barnes @ #15-

    If only gay marriage wouldn’t affect religious liberty.

    Hey, interracial marriage affects religious liberty too. Amazing how that works.

    Let me quote from your article here:

    So if a traditionally religious business owner wants to extend his “marriage discount” only to couples married in his eyes, the Triangle Foundation’s Sean Kososky says, “If you are a public accommodation and you are open to anyone on Main Street that means you must be open to everyone on Main Street. If they don’t do it, that’s contempt and they will go to jail.”

    Amazingly, if a white supremacist who’s a white supremacist for religious reasons tried to block interracial couples from that discount, he’d (or she’d) get the same treatment.

    So what’s the difference?

    gerrymander @ # 33 – CA state law allows anyone from out of state to get married, making it the only US state offering same sex marriage to do so. There’s a lot more out gay people in the US than there are in Canada, and outside of living in MA, this is the only chance they get to get married.

  32. Neil W, oops my bad. Caligula was not so crazy as to get married to a horse. Here are some historical animal human marriages that don’t involve Caligula. I promise I won’t mention Catherine the Great and horses either.
    :-)

  33. Unless there’s some indication that the percentage of gay couples in California is 300% higher than our neighbor to the north

    The population of Canada is a little north (har har) of 30 million, while California’s is estimated at around 35 million. And when you factor in San Francisco, it would not be at all surprising if the number of same sex couples wishing to marry would be 3x higher in California than in the entire nation of Canada. (The numbers certainly could be wrong, but they’re not implausible.)

    JJ, it’s really very rare that people with a diametrically opposing viewpoint are, in fact, evil and/or stupid rather than merely wrong. Let us enjoy the moment, won’t you?

  34. Shane, as it happens I think that marrying horses to horses is wrong as they can’t* consent. Caligula was evil and crazy, but how evil and crazy? I mean he loved his horse, but it seems he loved him like a man loves his horse, not like man-horse love.

    Also I liked the opportunity to point up the ambiguity in the verb to marry (which I think I first understood from an Elvis film; at the end he’s asked which of the three girls he’s going to marry. His answer: all of them!)

    * or won’t:
    “Do you take this stallion to be your husband?”
    “Neigh!”

  35. “And when you factor in San Francisco, it would not be at all surprising if the number of same sex couples wishing to marry would be 3x higher in California than in the entire nation of Canada.”

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of gay Canadians have moved to the SF/Silicon Valley area or Hollywood.

  36. The moment for this has passed, but I never understood why an Indian tribe didn’t legalize gay marriage and set up some incredible chapel in a nice hotel/casino. Whether a state would’ve been obligated to recognize a tribe-issued marriage license to a same-sex couple is actually a difficult legal question…and one where the “answer” might’ve varied from state to state. Even if the marriages wouldn’t eventually have been recognized anywhere but Indian Country, the tribe might’ve earned itself quite a bit of money, and good karma, in the meanwhile.

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