Message to Hawaii lawmakers: Legalize same-sex marriage or risk losing out on hundreds of millions of dollars.
“The benefits from pent-up demand for same-sex marriages are time dependent. If Hawaii waits to adopt same-sex marriage, it will not realize these gains. They will be lost forever, diverted to other states that recognize marriage equality,” warns University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix in a report released Thursday.
The report, co-authored with Lauren Gabriel of the William S. Richardson School of Law, comes in the wake of decisions by the U.S. Supreme Court in June regarding the federal Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Proposition 8.
The rulings have encouraged marriage-equality advocates to step up efforts in states like Hawaii, which legalized civil unions in 2011. Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages.
“We are talking about adding approximately $200,000 a day to Hawaii’s economy,” said Lois Perrin, founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage and ALCU-Hawaii legal director in a press release. “Plus there’s a larger issue here and it involves Hawaii’s diversity and spirit of aloha. Simply put, it’s time we end discrimination and unite the people of Hawaii that all families—gay or straight—should receive equal treatment under the law,” Perrin said.
La Croix has authored other studies on the impact of gay marriage and civil unions. The latest report is reproduced below and can also be accessed on the UHERO website.
Highlights of the report:
• $166 million in additional spending for Hawaii over the 2014-2016 period from marriages and honeymoons of same-sex couples visiting from states with marriage equality.
• Including spending from marriages and honeymoons of same-sex couples from states without marriage equality, total spending increases to $217 million.
• $10.2 million in state and Honolulu county general excise tax revenues; state income tax revenues would also increase.
LaCroix and Gabriel warn that Hawaii stands to lose a lot of money if it does not act on marriage equality. It includes “substantial federal tax savings” in health insurance and federal spousal benefits such as Social Security.
“Without access to marriage in Hawaii, local same-sex couples can only gain access to federal marriage rights by traveling to the U.S. mainland to marry,” they explain. “This reduces same-sex couple spending in Hawaii, harms the Hawaii wedding industry, and raises the cost to many Hawaii same-sex couples of becoming married.”
The report could help persuade lawmakers to address same-sex marriage, something they avoided in the 2013 session.
“I think they will react positively,” said state Rep. Chris Lee, who supports gay marriage. “We are in a recovering economy, and the more we can rely on additional dollars in the state, the better off we will all be.”
Legislators could pass legislation, as they did with civil unions, or put the question before voters, as they did in 1998 when a majority effectively voted against gay marriage.
Meanwhile, opponents of gay marriage are mobilizing to lobby lawmakers, too.
Same sex education has started in our public school system, and should we further confuse our children by having a mother named Fred, or a dad named Alice? I THINK NOT!!! Our society is mocking God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit. Do not let this happen in Hawaii. Our Founders gave us the power of religious freedom so let us make use of that power to honor God.
The coalition is updating its website to provide links to legislators.