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Economist Mom

What else can we legalize to help the economy?

Gay marriage has been good for the Washington DC economy.

By Guest blogger / March 11, 2010

Rocky Galloway (l.) and Reginald Stanley are pronounced "partners for life" by Rev. Sylvia E. Sumter during their marriage ceremony March 9, the first day that gay marriage is legal in Washington. Gay marriage has been good for the DC economy.

AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin

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A front page story in this morning’s Washington Post explains why DC’s legalization of gay marriage has been good for the DC economy:

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As the first same-sex couples married in Washington on Tuesday, the city is in the national spotlight as a pioneer in the gay-rights movement. But local officials say the historic event also has more practical implications for a city grappling with 12 percent unemployment: jobs. A study by the nonprofit Williams Institute predicted that legalizing same-sex marriage will create 700 jobs and contribute $52.2 million over three years to the local economy.

“We think it’s a great opportunity to capitalize on groups that will be coming to Washington,” said Elliott Ferguson, chief executive of Destination D.C., the city’s tourism and marketing arm. “It’s the nation’s capital. It’s symbolic.”

Businesses are already lining up to cater to what Forbes estimated is a $16.8 billion national market. A local restaurant answered the phone Tuesday with “Happy gay marriage day.”

Organizers of the city’s first gay and lesbian wedding expo, planned for spring at the Renaissance Hotel in Dupont Circle, said hotels were jockeying to host the expo — a dramatic change from the days when hotels were reluctant to put signs with same-sex couples’ names in the lobby.

It makes great sense to me. I know from just casual observation that some of the nicest parts of Rehoboth Beach, DE, with the most beautiful (and pricey) homes, are the parts known to have a high concentration of gay homeowners. This may be stereotyping, but gay people do seem to like to shop (certainly more than the average run-of-the-mill heterosexual male who is one half of most “couples”), and they do seem to have above-average taste and style. So legalizing gay marriage means there will be some unusually tasteful and stylish (and probably expensive) weddings, honeymoons, home furnishings, etc. Good for the economy, for sure. And because there’s this thing called the sales tax (which is pretty high in DC–10% for restaurant meals, meaning wedding receptions!), gay marriage will be good for government budgets as well.

It reminds me of the economic argument I’ve heard for why we should legalize marijuana. And I think when prohibition (of alcoholic beverages) ended, that was probably pretty good for the economy, too. I mean, where would all that Super Bowl commercial revenue come from if it weren’t for (legal) beer?

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