Marriage Equality Could Add $7M to Rhode Island Economy

Gov to sign bill as early as this week

Extending marriage rights to same-sex couples in Rhode Island would bring an estimated $7 million to the state and local economy, according to a study released by the Williams Institute. Angeliki Kastanis, Williams Institute public policy research fellow and

“These are just a few of the financial benefits of extending same-sex marriage in Rhode Island,” said M.V. Lee Badgett, the institute’s research director. “Rhode Island would see a surge in spending related to weddings by same-sex couples and their guests who choose to marry in the state, generating additional tax revenue for state coffers.”

According to the 2010 U.S. Census, 2,785 same-sex couples live in Rhode Island. Of those couples, 808 marriage licenses will be issued within the first three years after the passage of marriage equality, according to the pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and elsewhere. This figure also takes into account the Rhode Island couples that may have married in other states. Rhode Island is situated near Connecticut and other New England states that currently allow marriage for same-sex couples.

In the first three years of extending marriage to same-sex couples, the study—co-authored by Badgett and Angeliki Kastanis, Williams Institute public policy research fellow—makes these estimates:

  • The state’s wedding and tourism business would see spending rise by $7 million, including $5.5 million in additional wedding spending and $1.5 million in tourism expenditures made by out-of-town guests.
  • Based on Rhode Island’s rates of 7 percent sales tax and 6 percent hotel and lodging tax, $530,000 in tax revenue will be generated for the state in the first three years same-sex couples may marry.
  • The boost in travel spending will generate approximately 26 jobs in the state.

This report does not include spending estimates for out-of-state same-sex couples that might travel to Rhode Island to marry, spending additional funds on wedding planning and tourism during their brief stay. It is important to note that also allowing out-of-state same-sex couples the opportunity to wed will likely result in further economic gains for Rhode Island businesses. This impact would then translate into additional increased tax revenue for the state and local budgets.

The full study can be seen here.

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