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Gay marriages could generate hundreds of millions in first year of legalization for 11 states, studies find

If legalized, same-sex marriages could generate more than $464 million in their first year for 11 state economies, according to a series of studies released this year.

The reports, created by the Williams Institute, a national think tank based at the UCLA School of Law and committed to research on sexual orientation and gender identity, estimate that nearly 89,701 same-sex couples would wed in the first three years of legal marriage in the 11 states studied this year, contributing $723.5 million to the state economies over that period. The Institute has been issuing state-by-state estimates for several years, with an acceleration of releases over the past few months. (We limited this post to the reports issued since April.)

Institute researchers use a similar methodology in each study, starting first with 2010 Census data on the number of same-sex couples in each state. To estimate the number of same-sex marriages that would take place if legalized, the researchers rely on the Massachusetts experience. Roughly half of the state’s same-sex couples had wed within three years of legalization. Because other states have seen similar trends, the Institute assumes the same will occur, roughly, in the states it analyzed.

To calculate new spending, the Institute relies on state estimates from market research company The Wedding Report. But that number may be too high for two reasons: because of societal discrimination, some same-sex couples may not get the same financial support from their families as heterosexual couples and some same-sex couples may simply reallocate money they would have otherwise spent in the state toward their weddings. To account for both, the Institute lowers its estimate to about a fourth of the Wedding Report number. The researchers then estimate the number of out-of-state guests based on a report from Massachusetts and estimate their spending based on hotel and food allowances for federal employees by state.

While the Williams Institute estimates are not entirely uniform, all included the number of couples that would marry, the three-year economic benefit, and the benefit that would be felt in the first year. All but one included a revenue estimate as well. A few included ranges.

Here’s a look at the 11 state reports issued since April. Same-sex marriages are currently allowed in Pennsylvania and Oregon.

Michigan (August, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 7,299
Three-year economic benefit: $53,200,000
Three-year revenue benefit: $3,200,000
Economic benefit in first year: $34,100,000

Ohio (August, 2014)


Hundreds of gay marriage supporters rally in Cincinnati on Aug. 6. (AP Photo/Al Behrman)

Couples marrying over first three years: 9,842
Three-year economic benefit: $70,800,000
Three-year revenue benefit: $5,000,000
Economic benefit in first year: $45,200,000

Texas (July, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 23,200
Three-year economic benefit: $181,600,000
Three-year revenue benefit: $14,800,000
Economic benefit in first year: $116,200,000

Nevada (June, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 3,570 (low-end estimate: 1,532)
Three-year economic benefit: $52,000,000 (low-end estimate: $23,000,000)
Three-year revenue benefit: $4,200,000 (low-end estimate: $1,800,000)
Economic benefit in first year: $34,000,000 (low-end estimate: $14,000,000)

Arizona (June, 2014)


Jo Beaudry holds up a sign as she joins nearly 250 gay rights supporters protesting at the Arizona Capitol in February. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

Couples marrying over first three years: 7,909
Three-year economic benefit: $61,900,000
Three-year revenue benefit: $5,100,000
Economic benefit in first year: $39,600,000

Pennsylvania (May, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 11,168 (low-end estimate: 7,490)
Three-year economic benefit: $92,100,000 (low-end estimate: $65,000,000)
Three-year revenue benefit: $5,800,000 (low-end estimate: $4,200,000)
Economic benefit in first year: $58,900,000 (low-end estimate: $42,000,000)

Indiana (May, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 5,537
Three-year economic benefit: $39,100,000
Three-year revenue benefit: $2,700,000
Economic benefit in first year: $25,000,000

Utah (April, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 1,955
Three-year economic benefit: $15,500,000
Three-year revenue benefit: $1,000,000
Economic benefit in first year: $9,900,000

Virginia (April, 2014)


Spencer Geiger, Carl Johansen and Robert Robert Roman protest for equal marriage outside the Walter E. Hoffman U.S. Courthouse in February in Norfolk, Virginia. (Jay Paul/Getty Images)

Couples marrying over first three years: 7,122 (low-end estimate: 5,487)
Three-year economic benefit: $60,000,000 (low-end estimate: $46,000,000)
Three-year revenue benefit: $3,200,000 (low-end estimate: $2,500,000)
Economic benefit in first year: $38,500,000 (low-end estimate: $29,700,000)

Oregon (April, 2014)

Couples marrying over first three years: 5,887
Three-year economic benefit: $47,300,000
Economic benefit in first year: $30,300,000

Niraj Chokshi is a general assignment reporter for The Washington Post.

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