In March of 1996, 26% of people believed gay marriage should be recognized by the state. That left 68% believing it should not.
As of May 2015, 60% of people believed the state should recognize gay marriage while only 37% believed it shouldn’t. The shift in public opinion on this issue has been incredible. The actual progress in the fight for equality has been even more impressive.
In 2004, Massachusetts became the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. And today, eleven years later, the Supreme Court has made it a right for LGBT couples across the country. Much like Brown vs. Board of Education, Plessy vs. Ferguson, and Roe vs. Wade, Obergefell vs. Hodges will go down in history as one of the most monumental cases in history.
All 50 states must now recognize same sex marriage. And while this is clearly a huge victory for civil rights, it may also be a sizeable victory economically. With gay marriage legal across the country, what impact will it have on economic growth moving forward?
Gains for the Government
The federal government does stand to gain money from the Supreme Court’s decision to make gay marriage nationwide. Unfortunately, the most recent, credible report we have on projected revenue comes from 2004. In June of that year, the CBO released a report specifically detailing the budgetary impact of legalized same sex marriage across the country.
In total, the CBO projected that the government would gain $1 billion each year from 2005-2014 if same sex marriage were legalized. To arrive at this number, they used data from the 2000 census indicating that there were 600,000 same-sex couples living in the United States. Part of the $1 billion gain is an increase in federal tax revenues. The CBO projected that by 2011; the government would collect an additional $700 million each year after same sex marriage was legalized. With respect to a nearly $4 trillion budget, this effect is miniscule, but it is still a positive effect nonetheless.
With regards to federal programs like Social Security, Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income, and Medicare, the CBO predicted that by 2010, same sex marriages would save between $100 and $200 million on all of these programs.
So, as we move into the future, the Supreme Court’s decision today should add money to the budget. It’s hard to say how much exactly, though, because 37 states had already legalized same-sex marriage before today’s decision. Much of the CBO’s projected gains may have already happened.
The Marriage Itself
The government isn’t the only entity that stands to gain from this decision today. The country’s $51 billion wedding industry is certainly excited as well. Unsurprisingly, they have a lot to gain.
Same sex marriages across the country can grow the wedding business by $2.5 billion a year, according to one estimate. By using the average cost of the wedding in a given state, the number of same sex couples living in that state, and the marriage rate, they were able to calculate how much money each state stood to gain from legalizing gay marriage. Unsurprisingly, California gains the most with about $414 million.
It’s Not About the Money
The gains, all in all, are small. Today isn’t about economic gains. Today isn’t about how much better the wedding industry is going to fair or the extra few hundred million dollars the government stands to gain from this ruling. This is about celebrating the monumental progress that the American public has made on the most important civil rights issue of our generation. Even before today, the progress was huge. Whether by ballot initiatives of judicial rulings, 37 states had moved to recognize same sex-marriage…all since 2004. Now, the fight for marriage equality is complete.
It’s a great day to be an American.
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