New York counts the cost of gay nuptials
New York City Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. has issued a study finding that the legalisation of marriage for same-sex partners could yield $142 million in economic benefits to New York City.
The report, Love Counts: The Economic Benefits of Marriage Equality for New York, concluded that the revenue would be largely generated in the three years immediately following enactment of legislation and would be derived from the spending of residents and visitors on their weddings, along with the spending of their out-of-town guests.
“Legalising marriage for same-sex couples in New York would have impacts beyond allowing individuals to make the full legal commitments to their partners that opposite-sex couples take for granted,” Thompson said.
The report analysed both the economic effects on the state and the fiscal impacts on government.
Thompson concluded that enacting marriage equality would entail costs to businesses and in particular those that offer health insurance to employee spouses.
However, the report notes that any additional costs would be partly offset by the fact that many firms already provide domestic partner coverage.
Thompson pointed out that the figures do not capture all of the potential impacts of legalising marriage for same-sex couples.
For instance, firms may face lower recruiting costs or an expanded pool of qualified candidates if same-sex couples are more likely to move to New York as a result of the change.
As well, greater economic security resulting from marriage may prompt more couples to buy homes, thereby generating greater tax revenue.
Additionally, there would be fiscal impacts including higher sales and personal income tax collections and marriage licence fees, lower estate tax collections and public savings on means-tested government transfer programmes.
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In 2005, there were 50,854 same-sex couples living together and residing in New York State who can be identified as partners, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
That same year, there were 23,321 such couples in New York City. Nationally, the Census Bureau reported there were an estimated 777,000 same-sex couples at that time.
The Comptroller’s Office adopted a conservative approach to produce the estimates in the report.
He estimated that in the three years following legalisation more than 56,000 couples would travel from out-of-state to marry in New York State, generating spending of approximately $137 million.
This includes the fact that New York State requires a minimum of 24 hours between the issuance of a marriage licence and the performance of a ceremony, so couples who travelled to the state would either stay overnight or attempt to make two daytrips.
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