Saturday, February 26, 2011

How States Can Stop Discriminating and Make Money Doing It!

I have a brilliant idea that, if implemented, would help states begin to dig themselves out of the deep hole of deficits. It doesn't involve any cuts, any union busting, and it would help bring jobs to the states.

Legalize gay marriage. For every gay couple that gets married in your state, the state will collect the usual licensing fee (on average about $35 a couple). In California, when gay marriages were briefly legal prior to the passage of Prop 8, 18,000 gay couples were wed. This alone brought the state well over a million dollars in revenues, WITHOUT hurting a single soul. (Those 18,000 couples remain legally wed, and their marriages seem to have not hurt the state or the heralded institution of marriage in any way.)

But licensing fees aren't the only benefit. Marriage is a billion dollar industry. It generates over $60 billion a year in expenses, ranging from invitations to rented gowns and tuxedos to video shoots and photography. Make-up artists, cosmetologists, wedding planners, and the like all benefit from people's marriages. The tourist industry benefits from weddings, when people travel to attend a wedding, or when the happy couple goes on a honeymoon.

Granted, there aren't as many gay couples as there are heterosexual couples, but immediately adding, say, even a 5% increase to the number of total couples marrying would represent a significant boon to the marriage industry. That's nothing to sneeze at in these tough economic times. Additionally, all the aforementioned services are taxed, so the states would benefit in this way, too, in addition to collecting marriage licensing fees.

I am talking REAL money.

Denying gay citizens (who pay their taxes like anybody else) the right to marry may in fact be a very short-sighted fiscal policy. Just sayin.

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