[dropcap]C[/dropcap]olorado political candidates looking to tout job-creating policy proposals on the stump this election year got an email gift this morning from the Williams Institute at UCLA, which has released its finding that legalizing gay marriage here would generate $50 million in revenue over the first three years and add nearly 450 full-time jobs to the state rolls.
Weddings here, like everywhere, are big business. Couples and their friends and family spend and spend — on the planning experts, catering specialists, vineyard owners, limo drivers, rehearsal dinner chefs, fancy tent setter-uppers, champagne and bourbon merchants, dress makers, tux fitters, oyster shuckers, the band members, DJs, roadies, haircutters, aspirin sellers and so on.
But in Colorado, there’s a whole population waiting to be tapped by the industry. Gay marriage was banned in 2006 here when state constitutional Amendment 43 passed with 56 percent of the vote. Public opinion has shifted dramatically on the issue since then, reaching a high this year of 56 percent in favor and 36 percent opposed. And, as indicated by the rush last summer of gay couples to county clerks offices when civil unions legislation passed into law, gay Coloradans want to get hitched.
The Williams report draws for its conclusions from Colorado wedding and tourism industry figures, U.S. Census data and marriage spending by same-sex couples tallied in other states — where gay marriage is legal. The authors of the study tread cautiously in their methodology, arriving at statistics few could argue with.
They write that half of the state’s 12,400 gay couples would likely get married in the three years following legalization and that they’d likely spend something like one-fourth of the money on their weddings that straight couples do — because, “due to societal discrimination, same-sex couples may receive less financial support from their parents and other family members to cover wedding costs.”
Industry figures quoted by the authors report that average spending on a wedding in Colorado was more than $26,000 in recession-wracked 2012.
The Institute estimates that a first year of gay marriages in the state would generate $2 million in tax revenue.
The Federal Tenth Circuit Appellate Court will consider two cases this month where federal judges have ruled gay marriage bans unconstitutional, one from Utah and one from Oklahoma. If the court affirms those rulings, the Colorado ban would be effectively struck down, making the Tenth Circuit Appeals Court judges major regional job creators!