Help gays marry and boost the economy: That’s one of the newest pitches in gay rights circles. A new story in Houston Chronicle says legalizing same-sex marriage could boost state income by $180 million over three years.
The thorny issues are explored in this reprint from the Texas Tribune, a non-profit journalistic think tank. The story is interesting, intelligent and mostly fair to conservative and liberal sources alike. But it does leave a few questions.
The news peg is a study by UCLA researchers. It “predicts that more than 23,000 same-sex couples in Texas would marry within three years if the state allowed them to,” the article says. According to the study, those 23,000 couples would add nearly $15 million in sales tax over three years. And if Texas beat neighboring Louisiana and Oklahoma, the state might reap even more.
It’s a clever tactic, especially for a state that has fought gay marriage at least since Texas passed a constitutional amendment against it in 2005. Here’s a pro-gay reaction from the story:
The report, which applies Texas population data to a model based on states where gay marriage has been legalized, provides a financial argument for same-sex marriage, said Kevin Nix, a spokesman for Freedom to Marry, a gay rights group.
“There is a fiscal component, and there is also a families component,” he said. “Allowing gay people to marry is actually a conservative value. It’s about limited government and it’s about stronger families.”
And lookit that: two paragraphs from the opposition. I like The Texas Tribune already.
Gay marriage opponents have a different view. Jonathan Saenz, executive director of the socially conservative group Texas Values, said the study used a model that wouldn’t apply to Texas.
“For 10 straight years, Texas has been ranked as the top state for business. It’s no surprise that Texas has also defined marriage as between one man and one woman in its constitution during these same 10 years, since 2005,” Saenz said. “California, a state that performs homosexual marriages, is ranked as one of the five worst states for business in 2014. Case closed.”
We then get a reply from Christy Mallory, one of the authors of the UCLA study. (Yep, The Texas Tribune did more than read and parrot a press release.) Mallory says that business ratings use a “variety of factors,” not just marriage.
Much of the rest of the article recaps the struggle in Texas: Legislators have stopped every effort to legalize same-sex marriage, but a federal judge in San Antonio ruled against the constitutional ban (but stayed the effect of his ruling).
An insightful paragraph: