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Study: Legalizing
marriage in New York State would yield $184 million in
increased spending

Study: Legalizing
marriage in New York State would yield $184 million in
increased spending

Allowing gays and lesbians to marry in New York State would bring a $184 million increase in spending--$142 million of which would go to New York City--over a three-year period, a study by the New York City Comptroller's office revealed Tuesday.

The report, called "Love Counts: The Economic Benefits of Marriage Equality for New York," reasoned that an estimated half of the 50,854 same-sex couples who are registered as residing in the state would marry if given the chance, leading to an anticipated influx of revenue stemming from local taxes, city marriage license fees, and personal spending.

"Legalizing marriage for same-sex couples in New York would have impacts beyond allowing individuals to make the full legal commitments to their partners that opposite-sex couples take for granted," comptroller William Thompson said in the report.

The report also foresees more than 56,000 couples from other states visiting the Big Apple to get married, including those from nearby New Jersey, Connecticut, and Pennsylvania.

Nancy Swartz, a videographer based in New York who specializes in capturing same-sex union ceremonies, said she anticipates a significant growth in her business if same-sex marriage is passed.

"My business did increase from New Jersey [civil unions] when the law passed," she said of her company, "Couples that I talked to in New Jersey after civil unions were passed said that they wanted to do it, so they just did it. I think a lot of New York couples will do the same."

Swartz said she is sought out by gay and lesbian couples because of her approach to documenting their special day.

"A lot of traditional videographers who do straight weddings have a formula, whereas gay couples all have their own stories that have to be told a certain way," she said. "Sometimes one bride will wear a dress, and sometimes both wear a dress. Other times they get ready together. I capture their stories more individually. The couples don't have to explain who they are. There is no exception."

Part of the $142 million uptick for New York City's economy would be a $58 million spending boom from couples and guests coming to visit the city for destination weddings. Increased rates of home ownership among couples could generate $40 million in real estate taxes for New York City alone.

Though couples would still not be allowed to file jointly on their federal income taxes because of the Defense of Marriage Act, New York companies would be required to grant benefits for employees' spouses and families. About 211,000 New York City-based firms would pay a total of $11 million per year in health insurance costs for dependents, while approximately 503,000 state companies would pay about $21 million annually for the additional coverage.

Additionally, those who receive assistance from the state's Medicaid program may become ineligible for those benefits if they marry someone whose income or assets are sufficient to lift them above the income and asset thresholds for these programs. Thompson estimated that the state would save about $110 million in Medicaid outlays over the three-year period looked at in the report. (Michelle Garcia, The Advocate)

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