New study says legalizing same-sex marriage would be an economic boon for the Sunshine State

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While Pam Bondi wants to wait for the U.S. Supreme Court to make the ultimate decision about whether the ban on same-sex marriage in Florida is unconstitutional, supporters are touting a new study released today from UCLA’s Williams Institute shows that Florida’s economy would get a massive economic boost from extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples.

According to the report’s estimates, more than 24,000 same-sex couples would choose to marry over the next three years, bringing a potential $182.2 million to Florida’s economy, with nearly $117 million of that in the first year alone. And it predicts that up to 2,626 jobs would be created in the Sunshine State due to the increased spending for same-sex couples’ weddings and celebrations.

The authors of the study, E.G. Fitzgerald, Christy Mallory and M.V. Lee Badgett, say they are actually relying on conservative estimates to assess the economic impact of sex couples. "In other words, all assumptions are cautious and, given the range of possibilities, likely produce revenue impacts on the lower bound," they write in the summary of their study.

The authors say that they took into account the 48,496 same-sex couples living in Florida. Basing it on the fact that in Massachusetts, just over half of same-sex couples married during the initial three-year period (with similar rates in other states have legalized same-sex marriage), the authors came up with their total of 24,248, exactly 50 percent of the number cited in the 2010 survey.

“This report is a strong, albeit conservative, indicator of the real economic benefit the freedom to marry would provide in Florida," said Shane McMurray of The Wedding Report, Inc. "National data consistently shows that Florida is one of the top options for American couples planning destination weddings — an additional factor not discussed in this report, but one that would substantially add to the economic impact of marriage in the Sunshine State.”

“Not only is ending the ban the right thing to do, but the research shows it is also the right thing for Florida's economy." said Nadine Smith, CEO of Equality Florida. “It is time for Florida to end this discrimination, allow gay families to protect our loved ones and become a wedding destination for all loving couples. That is a win for fairness and for our economy.”

Judges in four Florida counties — Monroe, Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach — have issued independent rulings this summer, each declaring the state's ban on same-sex marriage to be a violation of the U.S. Constitution. Attorney General Pam Bondi has appealed two of those decisions, meaning no marriage licenses have been issued. An appeal would usually be decided upon by the 3rd District Court of Appeals, with the possibility of it being kicked up immediately to the state Supreme Court to weigh in. 

But much to the consternation of same-sex marriage activists, Bondi announced recently that the state will defer to the Supreme Court, saying any further state proceedings would be a waste of taxpayer money and judicial resources.

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