(CBS SF / CNN) — Same-sex weddings have been a boon for the wedding industry since being legalized nationally in 2015 — and in the years since, it’s boosted state and local economies by $3.8 billion, a new University of California study estimates.
The same-sex wedding industry also supported at least 45,000 jobs and generated more than $244.1 million in state and local sales tax since June 2015, according to the report from the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy.
More than half of all wedded same-sex couples in the United States got married after the Supreme Court made the landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which guaranteed same-sex couples the same rights to marry as heterosexual couples. Before it was legalized, 37 states, including California, allowed same-sex marriages, but their unions weren’t recognized by federal law.
Now, the researchers estimate, there are 513,000 married same-sex couples in the United States, and 293,000 of them got married after June 2015.
How they did it
The Williams Institute law professors calculated their totals in unique ways, relying on existing data to piece together the $3.8 billion figure. They didn’t include any estimates past March 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic, which has forced engaged couples to cancel ceremonies.
$3.2 billion: The total spending by same-sex couples on their weddings between June 2015 and March 2020. A survey from 2016 showed that same-sex couples spend an average of $11,000 on weddings, about $4,000 less than heterosexual couples. The researchers multiplied that by the 293,000 couples who married since June 2015.
$543.8 million: The total out-of-state guests have spent attending same-sex weddings during the same period. Previous Williams Institute research suggested that the average same-sex wedding hosts an average of 16 guests who traveled from out of state. Here they relied on data from state tourism bureaus and the US General Services Administration.
With the assumption that each out-of-stater would pay for food and lodging for one night and split the room with another guest, the average non-local guest spends about $116 per person at a same-sex wedding out of town. They multiplied that by the estimated 4,688,000 out-of-towners who’ve attended same-sex weddings since June 2015.
$244.1 million: Total sales tax revenue from same-sex weddings. From June 2015 to March 2020, the average tax rate was 6.48%.
45,000: The approximate number of jobs supported by same-sex wedding spending. Using state tourism data, the researchers estimated an average of $83,643 in spending supported one job a year. By that estimate, 45,000 jobs were supported for a full year by same-sex weddings.
Support for same-sex marriage has grown since 2015
Over 10 years before same-sex marriage was legalized, most Americans opposed the idea, according to the Pew Research Center, by a margin of 60% to 31%.
By 2019, the numbers had flipped. According to the updated Pew poll, 61% of Americans support it, and 31% oppose it.
Gallup, which ran a same-sex marriage poll over several decades that yielded similar results, reported that the most noticeable change in support for same-sex marriage happened in 2012, when then-President Barack Obama vocally supported it.
And now that it’s been legalized, it’s possible that support for same-sex marriage has “reached a ceiling,” Gallup reported. But strong support among younger Americans could see its approval ratings rise.
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