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Gay marriage generated $3.8B over 5 years, study finds

Nearly 300,000 same-sex couples have tied the knot in U.S. since the Supreme Court's landmark 2015 Obergefell v. Hodges decision, according to the report.
In The Midst of Coronavirus, A Rare Moment of Joy
Wedding guests hold onto the chupah as, from left, Rabbi Claudia Kreiman, Senior Rabbi at Temple Beth Zion in Brookline, marries Elisheva Dan and Mara Mooiweer during their wedding in Griggs Park in Brookline, Mass., on March 26, 2020.Jessica Rinaldi / The Boston Globe via Getty Images file

Same-sex weddings have generated $3.8 billion in local and state economic activity since the Supreme Court legalized gay marriage five years ago this month, according to a study released Monday by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.

The report also found that gay weddings have generated an estimated $244 million in state and local taxes in the last five years and support 45,000 jobs a year.

Since the court’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges decision, 293,000 same-sex couples in the United States have tied the knot, over half of the 513,000 currently married gay couples in the country, according to the study, which used data from the government’s American Community Survey.

Researchers found that same-sex couples spent an average of $11,000 on their weddings (compared with $15,000 for heterosexual couples), coming to over $3.2 billion. On top of this, researchers estimated their out-of-state guests spent over $540,000 over the five years.

That spending difference between what same-sex and opposite-sex couples pay for their weddings is decreasing with time, researchers said.

“We have seen a trend toward that gap closing, and I suspect it will continue to close,” said Christy Mallory, the institute's director of state policy and initiatives and one of the report’s authors.

Mallory’s research also estimates that same-sex couples dissolve their marriages at about 1.1 percent a year, slightly lower than the rate for heterosexual couples.

“I think it shows that these marriages are just marriages, divorces are divorces,” she added.

The data stops in March, when many businesses closed because of the coronavirus crisis and many couples chose to delay getting married.

“Anecdotally, a lot of couples are choosing private ceremonies or no ceremonies at all,” Mallory told NBC News. “I think there will actually be a lot of desire to celebrate later.”

Record support for gay marriage

With the increasing number of gay marriages comes an increase in support for these nuptials. More than two-thirds of Americans (67 percent) say same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid, matching 2018’s record high, according to a Gallup poll released Monday.

Broken down by party affiliation, 83 percent of Democrats and 71 percent of independents approve, while Republican support hovers from 44 to 49 percent. While partisan differences exist, Republican support has nonetheless increased by over 33 percentage points since 1996.

“It just shows that Obergefell, and the movement leading up to it to secure marriage equality, have really made a difference in people's lives,” Mallory said.

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