Extending marriage rights to gay couples can add millions of dollars to state coffers, according to recent studies.

The research comes from the Williams Institute, a national think tank that studies sexual orientation law and public policy. It is housed at the UCLA School of Law.

Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle is weighing what to do about House Bill 444, which would permit civil unions that bestow the same rights and benefits as marriage. However the bill explicitly states that the civil unions are not marriage.

Would it be better from a financial standpoint if the Legislature had supported same-sex marriage rather than civil unions? A sampling of the research:

• Allowing same-sex couples to marry in Vermont would generate more than $31 million in new spending over three years, create 700 new jobs, and bring in $3.3 million in state tax revenues. (Vermont approved gay marriage in September 2009.)

• Weddings and related tourism would generate $60 million in additional spending in Maine over three years, create 1,000 new jobs, and increase tax revenues by $3.6 million. (Maine has domestic partnerships. In May 2009 same-sex marriages were legalized, but that November a voter referendum rejected the law.)

• Allowing same-sex couples to marry in California would result in $63.8 million in revenue for the state over three years. (California began granting gay marriage licenses in June 2008 before voters overturned the law that November. Perry v. Schwarzenegger, which argues the referendum was unconstitutional, may end up before the U.S. Supreme Court.)

• Allowing same-sex couples to marry in Iowa would result in a net gain of $5.3 million each year for the state, the result of savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs and an increase in income and sales tax revenue. (Iowa legalized gay marriage in April 2009.)

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