If you don’t agree with President Obama’s views on same-sex marriage, at least consider the business case for supporting it.
In states that recognize or are considering recognizing same-sex marriage, the benefits are undeniable.
In Vermont, allowing same-sex couples to marry would generate $30.6 million more in business over three years, says a 2009 study by the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at UCLA.
If New Jersey approves same-sex marriage, a study predicts economic gains of $48 million to $119 million over three years.
Similarly, if Florida were to lift the constitutional ban on gay marriage, we, too, would see an economic bump followed by long-term gains.
It would certainly help boost Gov. Rick Scott’s chances of creating 700,000 news jobs in his first term.
Instead, Florida lives with a ban on civil unions and same-sex marriages. In November 2008, 62 percent of Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that defines marriage as the union between a man and a woman.
Since then, polls across the country show public opinion is shifting rapidly and the same is true in Florida. Last year, Public Policy Polling found 67 percent of Floridians now support the legal recognition of same-sex couples.
Were Florida to lift the ban, the industries best poised to benefit are tourism and wedding services. States that have recognized gay marriage have seen significant business from out-of-state couples looking for a legally sanctioned ceremony. And as an economic force, the gay community is known to support states seen as welcoming.
Many states see the value of recognizing gay marriage. They are: Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, Hew Hampshire, New York, Vermont and the District of Columbia. California recognizes same-sex marriages performed prior to Nov. 4, 2008, but not since voters passed Proposition 8, banning it.
Partnerships are recognized in many other states: Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Maine, Nevada, Oregon, Rhode Island, Washington and Wisconsin.
Just last week, following Maryland’s lead, Rhode Island’s governor declared his state will recognize same-sex marriages performed elsewhere, giving gays the same rights as heterosexuals.
Tourism is an essential Florida industry. Last year, we hosted 85.9 million visitors, up 4.4 percent from a year earlier, adding more than 38,000 jobs. “Gay Days Orlando” drew 150,000 people to Central Florida. Imagine the potential were Florida to create a more welcoming business climate.
It’s time for Florida to create an environment that fosters equality and promotes economic growth. Are the social objections of some more important than the livelihood of the masses?
Formerly a reporter for the Tampa Bay Times and Orlando Sentinel, Susan Clary is a freelance writer who runs a nonprofit animal rescue in Orlando. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
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