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Memo To GOP: Marriage Equality Boosts The Economy

Republicans have responded to President Obama’s public endorsement of marriage equality by passing an amendment hours later reinforcing the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), and including two more anti-LGBT amendments in a defense bill.

Some members of the party, however, just want to ignore the issue altogether. House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), who has supported using taxpayer funds to defend DOMA, dismissed the focus on marriage equality as a distraction from important concerns like jobs and the economy:

The speaker suggested the reignited debate over gay marriage is a distraction to other legislative business on Capitol Hill, especially considering the state of the economy. “Republicans here on Capitol Hill are focused in on the economy,” he said. “The American people are still asking the question, ‘Where are the jobs?’ and our focus is going to continue to be on the economy like it has been for the last year and a half.”

But if jobs and the economy are the Speaker’s focus, he might be pleased to learn that legalizing same-sex marriage has had a strong positive impact on state and local economies, brought in money for tourism, lodging and wedding planning, and offered much-needed relief to state budgets:

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MASSACHUSETTS: A 2009 study found that “marriages have had a positive economic effect on Massachusetts -– likely providing a boost of over $100 million to the state economy.” “Same-sex couples’ weddings injected significant spending into the Massachusetts economy and brought out-of-state guests to the state, whose spending also added to the economic boost,” it concluded.

IOWA: Last year, a study found that same-sex marriages brought as much as $13 million in new spending to Iowa in the year since the state Supreme Court overturned a ban.

MARYLAND: A report last month from the Maryland Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce found that the recently passed marriage equality law could boost the state’s economy by $90 million a year if it survives a November referendum.

ILLINOIS: In March, a study from the Williams Institute predicted that legalizing marriage equality would boost Illinois’ economy by between $39 and $72 million over three years, and bring in as much as $8 million in tax revenue.

NEW JERSEY: The Williams Institute also found that legalizing marriage equality in New Jersey could add $119 million to the state’s economy over three years, along with $8 million in tax revenue.

RHODE ISLAND: One state that has not legalized same-sex marriage, Rhode Island, could be losing as much as $8 million a year. Why? Because same-sex couples simply travel to Massachusetts to get married. Rhode Island recognizes same-sex marriages from out of state but only allows civil unions within its borders.

NATIONALLY: A CBO report found that repealing DOMA could actually improve the federal budget by just under $1 billion in each of the next ten years, but only if marriage equality was legal in all fifty states and recognized by the federal government.

-Zachary Bernstein