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Sep 15, 2014Over $36 million could be added to Missouri Economy If Same-Sex Couples Could Marry

A new study authored by Williams Distinguished Scholar, M.V. Lee Badgett; Williams Gleason Kettel Summer Fellow, Justin M. O’Neill; and Williams Senior Counsel, Christy Mallory; states that extending marriages to same-sex Missouri couples could generate 36 million dollars in revenue for Missouri’s economy. As it stands, same-sex Missouri couples are traveling to other states that do not have a marriage ban for same-sex couples. 

“As an LGBT-friendly destination, we are heartened to see the positive economic impact same-sex marriage can have on our economy,” said Ronnie Burt, President and CEO of the Kansas City Convention and Visitors Association. “Right now those dollars are going to other states. We look forward to a time when Kansas City can welcome LGBT travelers to marry, celebrate their commitments and spend more of their dollars here. That means more resources invested into our economy that can be spent to improve services and quality of life for everyone in our community.” 

The 2010 U.S. Census reported that 10,557 same-sex couples live in Missouri. According to the report, 5,279 couples are expected to marry in the first three years. In the first year alone, William’s Institute predicts that over 3,379 marriages would occur, bringing in over $23 million in revenue to the state of Missouri that year.

Both Mayor Sylvester James in Kansas City and Mayor Francis Slay in St. Louis support marriage for all couples in Missouri. They both expressed an understanding for the economic value marriage could bring to their cities, as well as the value of marriage equality overall.

“I wholeheartedly believe that marriage equality is the right policy to pursue. Love is love, and it only makes sense that in 2014 we accept that fact,” said Mayor James, Mayor of Kansas City. “But regardless of one’s personal belief on the moral question of marriage equality, the economics of it are difficult to dismiss. We can provide residents with more high quality city services if the estimated $36.6 million impact of marriage equality is felt here in Kansas City. More revenue is a good thing for our economy and I’m supportive of events and efforts that bring in money to our community -- whether that be concerts, sporting events, conventions, or marriage equality.”

Mayor Slay, Mayor of St. Louis, added, “At issue is not only a matter of fairness (though it is certainly that). Cities are strengthened by their families. I want St. Louis to be the sort of diverse and open place in which all families -- gay and straight -- choose to live, be creative, and build businesses, this is a human rights issue, a quality of life issue, and an economics issue."

Key findings reported by Williams Institute include:

• 5,279 in-state same-sex couples would choose to marry in the three years following an opening of marriage to same-sex couples in Missouri. 

• The total spending on wedding arrangements and tourism by resident same-sex couples and their guests would add an estimated $36.3 million to the state and local economy of Missouri over the course of three years, with a $23.2 million boost in the first year alone. 

• This economic boost would add $2.75 million in sales tax revenue to state and local coffers. 

• Spending related to same-sex couples’ wedding ceremonies and celebrations would create 312 to 936 jobs in the tourism and recreation sector for Missouri.

A.J. Bockelman, PROMO’s Executive Director concluded, “These key findings, thanks to the Williams Institute, show that the affect of marriage on Missouri’s economy could positively impact the lives of many in this state. Right now, Missourians are traveling to neighboring states and across the country to be married, which means dollars are being spent elsewhere. We have beautiful spaces across Missouri to be married, and ALL Missourians deserve the opportunity to be wed right here in their home state.”

The Williams Institute report can be found here.

About Williams Institute: The Williams Institute is dedicated to conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy. A national think tank at UCLA Law, the Williams Institute produces high-quality research with real-world relevance and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policymakers, and the public. For more information go to:

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