Williams Institute releases new report on economic impact of the freedom to marry in Rhode Island

February 9, 2011 at 10:45 am 78 comments

By Adam Bink

This morning, the respected Williams Institute, which has done excellent work on estimating how a revision of the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men would dramatically boost the U.S. blood supply, released a report on the estimated economic impact of extending the freedom to marry to same-sex couples in Rhode Island:

Today, a new research study released by the Williams Institute shows that allowing same-sex couples to marry in Rhode Island would boost the state budget by more than $1 million over three years.

“Rhode Island would provide much needed protections to its same-sex couples if they were allowed to marry.  Opening up marriage to same-sex couples would also boost Rhode Island’s economy and state budget with new tax revenue and spending,” explains study co-author M. V. Lee Badgett, research director of the Williams Institute and professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

In calculating the net benefit to the State, the study predicts that half of Rhode Island’s 2,097 same-sex couples, or 1,048 couples, will be married within three years after the legislation is passed. This estimate includes about 440 couples who may have already married in the neighboring states of Massachusetts and Connecticut, which allow same-sex couples to wed.

Most of the new revenue to the state is gained through increased income taxes paid by married same-sex couples. “Some same-sex couples with children would pay more in taxes if they married,” explains study co-author, Craig Konnoth. Further, as study co-author Jody Herman notes, “Sales taxes obtained through increased wedding spending will bring in over $400,000 to the state coffers over three years. Marriage license fees would also account for some of the revenue gains.”

I’ve been beating the drum for some time now that marriage equality is a jobs/economic issue, not just a civil rights issue. In New Hampshire, where Arisha and her team were on the ground doing Camp Courage trainings and filming videos from supporters, we had small businesspeople whose business lay in the wedding industry give on-camera testimony on how the new law boosted their business. This report helps make the same case.

I’ve uploaded the report, which you can find in full here. I’ve read through the summary but there’s a lot of good data there.

Entry filed under: Marriage equality.

Marriage Equality Lobbying Day in Albany, NY Mike Gronstal rocks

78 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:48 am

    • 2. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:49 am


      • 3. Ann S.  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:51 am


        • 4. Straight for Equality  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:06 am

          • 5. Ronnie  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:17 pm


          • 6. JonT  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:58 pm

  • 7. Peterplumber  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:50 am


  • 8. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:54 am

    Adam, your link to ‘estimating how a revision of the ban on blood donations from men who have sex with men’ doesn’t work.

    • 9. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:11 am

      If anyone wants to read the PDF on the revision of ban on blood donations…

      Williams Ins. Doc

      • 10. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:08 pm

        Tx 4 link, it worked. I try not to get too worked up about the blood-donation ban. It is so ridiculous! Grrrrr!

  • 11. Ruth/Williams Institute  |  February 9, 2011 at 10:58 am

    I feel sorry for anyone here with the name Ruth Williams!

  • 12. Dave in ME  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:27 am

    This argument was brought up here in Maine and the response was that it doesn’t matter-immoral is immoral. The same argument could be made for legalizing heroin and prostitution, I guess.

    This won’t convince the opposition, sure, but maybe it will the fence-sitters? Then again, are they really on the fence if this sways them to our side?

    Dave in Maine

    • 13. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:02 pm

      I have similar concerns. The anti-gay forces don’t care about economic impact – for their leaders, it’s most certainly a personal economic benefit to keep LGBT folks down; heck, it’s their bread and butter.

      I really feel the discrimination argument must be first and foremost. Access to a civil contract is being denied to couples who represent an historically oppressed minority group, and they are part of this group as a matter of biology.

      • 14. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

        In our lobbying day in NY, the economic issue came up somewhat frequently. Since we are trying, at this point, to reach legislators, if economics is the language they want to hear, economics is the language we should speak in.

        Not that discrimination is not important, but you sometimes need to tailor your message to your audience.

        • 15. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

          Good point, AG. The message to legislators is definitely not the same as the message to the general public.

      • 16. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:25 pm

        The anti-equality lobby won’t care, but the legislators who are considering voting for it (and not for legalized prostitution) might give the economic argument some weight.

  • 17. Canadian JAG Officer  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:49 am

    I agree with Dave, this is probably only helpful for those fence sitters looking for extra points to weigh on the position they choose, but definately helpful! More weight should be given by the supposedly limited government, reduce deficit, create jobs right… but its hard to fight facts with ignorance…

    on a side note Dan Savage came to speak at my University last night (in Canada) about the it gets better project and I got most of my fellow law students to go, it was very eye opening to what is going on in the USA, much different from anything I have witnessed here…

    • 18. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

      By here, do you mean P8TT or where you live?

      And I would love to hear what sort of message you got from Dan… he is really quite wonderful!

      • 19. Canadian JAG Officer  |  February 9, 2011 at 5:42 pm

        Sorry, by here I meant in Canada, here on P8TT community I always hear great things!!

        But his message was about the it gets better program and why he felt like he needed to start it and responses he has recieved, very emotional at times very funny and very entertaining! He packed in the auditorium, a lot of his message though was focused on fact that even though in Canada we now have all the laws people need to protect themselves and recieve equality that it is still important for youth to know they are not alone and that when they finish school things will be better,
        he also answered annonomous questions were were mainly sex advice… some pretty funny stuff,
        I think he got his message across effectively though I can see why he is controversial based on some of his discussions about the church… (which I can understand where he is coming from… but my experience with my church and priest has been amazing, so you cant paint a blanket…) but glad I went!

        • 20. AnonyGrl  |  February 10, 2011 at 7:48 am

          Sounds great! I’m glad you got to go too!

  • 21. Canadian JAG Officer  |  February 9, 2011 at 11:53 am

    This also helps bolster that it is not inappropriate to be focusing on this while economy is bad because it will help, and also that in Iowa and New Hampshire it is bad to focus on this now while economy is bad because will be a cost to economy

  • 22. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    This is a very interesting take on proponents Procreation argument.

    Tailoring Marriage Law to Satisfy Equal Protection and Due Process

    If a court finds the eligibility requirements for traditional marriage unconstitutionally overinclusive, it has two alternatives: It can order the expansion of the requirements to encompass same-sex couples or it can order a narrowing of the requirements so that eligibility for traditional marriage is better tailored to fit the justification for traditional marriage. The briefs of the parties in the California case have little to say on this alternative. What would such a law look like? It involves identifying and barring infertile couples (at any one time, about one in six or seven couples in the United States).

    Beyond barring infertile couples, women over the age of 50, it would also include that marriages after 10 years where no child were produced (or if the woman has turned 50) would be terminated by the government (no divorce, just termination.)

    Also, a man can abandon a wife after the age of 50, since she is then presumed infertile, and find a younger wife to bear more children.

    Very funny article

    Here: http://spectator.org/archives/2011/02/09/tailoring-marriage-law-to-sati

    • 23. Gregory in Salt Lake City  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:25 pm

      :: Like :: : D

    • 24. Sheryl Carver  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:40 pm

      What isn’t funny are the comments. Pretty much covers the spectrum of why anti-equality is valid & good & “God’s plan,” including the slippery slope of marrying animals.

      Reading garbage like that always makes me worry anew about the competency of many of our citizens. It feels like we are trying to explain something to children who are holding their hands over their ears while screaming “I can’t hear you!”

      But then I remember that reputable polling numbers show that support is continuing to rise for true civil rights for all, & my stress level lowers again.

      • 25. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

        I so agree – the comments are repulsive.

      • 26. Sheryl Carver  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:44 pm

        In case there’s any doubt, I mean the comments posted over on the spectator.org page.

        • 27. AnonyGrl  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:40 pm

          Whew. I thought you were coming down on US!

          (Not really… that was just silly… I know you love us as we love you!)

      • 28. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:46 pm

        The haters really are obsessed with marrying animals, aren’t they? Makes you wonder what’s going on in the deep, dark recesses of their psyches.

  • 29. AB  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Have we heard anything from the California Supreme Court? I am kinda getting antsy. I am not nervous, I just hate not knowing!

    • 30. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:33 pm

      Nothing. And they weren’t scheduled to have their usual Wed conference today, so I’m not sure why the chief justice said they might decide this week. But I continue to watch the docket anyway. :)

  • 31. Andrew_SEA  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:13 pm

    Concerning the comments about the blood supply… I would have absolutely no issue with donating my blood to help someone in need.

    Growing up in the 80’s and seeing a large percentage of my high school friends die alone with AIDS, I have learned that life is precious – even if it is someone you may disagree with.

    (Yes Maggie, I would even donate blood to save your life. I am a decent human being despite what you think of me as a gay person)

    It is a difficult issue though. I do understand both sides. In the back of my mind though, I have been hoping for technology to catch up and allow LGBT citizens to actively participate and help.

    I always feel left out when the “bloodmobile” posters go up at work. Most of my coworkers go, yet I cannot. Just another “exclusion” event that is attributed to my being gay.

    I have been with my partner now 18 years next month. We are monogamous and get tested each time we see the doctor. I would hope I am a safe donor…

    … but then again – you never know. My blood may just save a straight man’s life, but then make him want to start singing showtunes at any given moment… *wink

    • 32. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:47 pm

      He caught teh ghey! LOL :D

  • 33. AB  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:32 pm

    Here is a topic for discussion that I would like everyone’s opinion on…

    62% of New Hampshire residents OPPOSE the idea of repealing that state’s marriage equality law. This is more than in California or Maine before either of those ballot initiatives.

    The question is this: Should we be ok with a ballot initiative vote there since it seems like a state that may well lead to our first ballot initiative win? Will NOM stop trying to push a ballot initiative there as a result of what looks like long shot odds for them? Do you think we WOULD win there given that nearly two thirds of the state favor keeping marriage equality in that state?

    I am anxious to hear what people think!

    • 34. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:41 pm

      I don’t think civil rights should ever be put to a vote but I’d be willing, for the sake of expediency, to support a vote which would win equality in a state without it. However, I really don’t think there should ever be a vote the purpose of which is to remove a right already recognized, even if I was sure we’d win.

      • 35. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:42 pm

        I don’t mean to suggest I wouldn’t vote to retain equality if it was on a ballot; only that I oppose a push to get it on the ballot in the first place.

        • 36. Sheryl Carver  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:57 pm

          I’m of the same opinion, Kathleen.

          It goes against everything we’ve been saying that civil rights should NOT be up for a vote, ever. But if any civil rights issue does end up being voted on, we should do our best to see that bigotry does not win, ever.

          Another reason NOT to push to get such rights issues on a ballot is that, even if the polls are correct, there’s no guaranty that enough of those who support civil rights will actually show up & vote.

          Plus NOM & its allies-in-misinformation are very good at pulling out some illogical but scary ad campaigns at the last minute. These can turn the outcome in an unexpected direction. For example, I think polls indicated Prop 8 would lose here in CA, & yet …

        • 37. Straight for Equality  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:27 pm

          Kathleen, I completely agree with you. I live in NH and I would love to see this issue stop coming up in the legislature, but no one should have their civil rights put to a vote.

      • 38. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:48 pm

        If the anti-equality types started losing ballot initiatives they’d abandon that strategy and go right to the courts without a twinge of irony. Fortunately, they haven’t had a good track record in the legal arena.

      • 39. Peterplumber  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:22 pm


    • 40. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 12:51 pm

      Oh, and more to the point – great news!

      • 41. JPM  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:34 pm

        More good news

        from Delaware and from California

        • 42. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:39 pm

          It really is just a matter of time. It’s not only the fact that people are finally siding with equality for all. The older anti-gay haters are dying out – and the younger informed children are becoming of age to vote.

        • 43. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:41 pm

          Thanks for the links. I hadn’t seen the Delaware poll.

          I did read the Daily Kos piece earlier today — should be aware that the article contains some inaccuracies in the reporting on the Perry case.

          • 44. JPM  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:45 pm

            Well, it was just an attempt at a quick summary. What did I screw up?

          • 45. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:06 pm

            Never put it together before that you’re the author! :)

            California Supreme Court has not been asked whether Proponents have standing in a federal court. Only a federal court can decide that. They’ve been asked to answer questions about California law, questions the 9th Circuit wants the answer to in order to help them (9th Circuit) make that determination.

            If it is ultimately decided that Proponents lack standing, the 9th Circuit won’t be upholding Walker’s decision; they will be dismissing the appeal. It’s an important distinction. If the 9th Circuit is able to take the appeal and upholds Walker’s decision, the 9th Circuit ruling sets precedent for the entire 9th Circuit jurisdiction. If they have to dismiss the appeal for lack of an appellant with standing, then Walker’s decision only applies to California.

            There are so many possible directions this can go, that I won’t try to outline them all. But as to the U.S. Supreme Court’s somewhat immediate role, if the 9th Circuit decides that Proponents lack standing (with or without input from the California Supreme Court), Proponents can appeal that ruling to SCOTUS.

          • 46. JPM  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:51 pm

            Okay, thanks for the corrections. Even if I knew all the details you present (which I sort of do), trying to summarize them in a couple sentences as I wanted would have proved daunting!

          • 47. JPM  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

            But I will try harder in the future!

          • 48. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:53 pm

            I understand. :)

    • 49. Ronnie  |  February 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm

      I pretty much concur with all the above….<3…Ronnie

  • 50. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:48 pm

    I can’t find a link. I thought Marriage Equality bill was having a hearing in the Rhode Island Judiciary committee this afternoon.
    Any infor?

    • 51. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 1:53 pm

      The tweets I’m seeing on my facebook page show it’s starting soon, but I’m having trouble finding a link to follow live.

      Anyone know of one?

      • 52. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

        All I can find is

        Follow @MassEquality for more live updates from the Rhode Island statehouse! #ri #marriage
        2/9/11 – 4:56pm

      • 53. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:00 pm

        Who are you following? MERI twitter only has this:
        “We’re looking forward to the Let the People Marry Rally (4PM tomorrow @ the State House), please join us!
        6:30 AM Feb 9th via web”

        What about today?

        • 54. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:03 pm

          MERI’s also been posting text messages by phone onto their facebook page.

          A little over 20 minutes ago: “We’ve hit capacity at the State House – thank you to everyone who came out. The line is 4-deep all the way down Smith Street!”

          • 55. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:37 pm

            why can’t I see these on their facebook page?
            btw I haven’t “friended” them.

          • 56. Lesbians Love Boies  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:40 pm

            Karen, there is a wall button, top left, under their pic (I think) just click the wall button and you can view

          • 57. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:08 pm

            well, I must have the wrong Marriage Equality Rhode Island (MERI) facebook page because the last thing posted is from January 29th.
            No button under picture (a picture of a banner from a past demo in the state house).

            How about a link to anything.
            GLAD tweets are occasional.
            Can you tell I’m frustrated?

          • 58. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:20 pm

            Try this karen

          • 59. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:44 pm

            Thanks Kathleen. That facebook page is a diff MERI than the previous. Only the information page is showing. Nothing to indicated tweets or any news.
            Guess I will catch up latter. Boo hoo.

  • 60. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:07 pm

    @OceanStAction has tweets

    Here’s two great pics so far. One inside the State House:
    and the line outside waiting to get in:

    • 61. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      Thanks! Those are great pictures.

    • 62. Kathleen  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:33 pm

      Also, @GLADLaw is tweeting

  • 63. Rhie  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:12 pm


    • 64. karen in kalifornia  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:15 pm

      What are you watching? Is there a stream link? I can’t find one.

      • 65. Rhie  |  February 10, 2011 at 4:55 pm

        Just watching the comments on the post :)

  • 66. seth from maryland  |  February 9, 2011 at 2:21 pm

    hi there, trial tracker, i from maryland and i been out of the country a few days, so i missed all the things thats been going on in my state, does anyone know when the vote on marriage equality will be??? i am really hoping it passes so i can be the best man at my sister and her girlfriends (been together to long not to be married) wedding!!!

  • 68. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Sounds like equality is busting out all over today. It must suck to be a NOMNOM.

    • 69. Steve  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:18 pm

      Don’t worry. Somewhere, soon, some other state is going to make a step backwards.

      • 70. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:22 pm

        Sad but true. NOM will keep paddling furiously until the canoe goes over the waterfall.

  • 71. LCH  |  February 9, 2011 at 4:42 pm

    More equality busting out all over:
    64% against repeal of marriage equality in NH. Reuters reports 51% strongly opposed to repeal.

    N.H. Wants to Keep Marriage Equality | News

  • 72. Ronnie  |  February 9, 2011 at 6:10 pm

    Providence Unitarian church endorses same-sex marriage

    PROVIDENCE, R.I. — The congregation of the First Unitarian Church of Providence has voted 254 to 7, with two ballots returned blank, to endorse marriage equality for same-sex partners, the pastor said in a press release Tuesday.

    Ford said the church, founded in 1728, gives members of the congregation an opportunity to express their views, and then a vote is taken. A resolution passes if two-thirds of the congregation votes for it. Of the 263 ballots counted, 254 agreed with the resolution, he said.

    “We are proud to be taking a stand on the side of love,” ~ Rev. James Ishmael Ford

    (me) 1st, awesome…Thank you so much Rev. Ford & your congregation for supporting Equality…….2nd, Hey NOM…..religious liberty…..just saying…..<3…Ronnie

    • 73. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 10, 2011 at 10:26 am

      The fundamentalists dismiss the Unitarians for not being real Christians, but they in fact exhibit much better Christian behavior.

      • 74. AnonyGrl  |  February 10, 2011 at 10:35 am

        But Christian or not, NOM is trying to infringe on their right to freedom of religion, no? :)

        • 75. Ann S.  |  February 10, 2011 at 10:47 am

          True. NOM does not want Unitarians to be able to exercise their freedom of religion in marrying couples they choose to marry.

  • 76. Richard A. Jernigan  |  February 10, 2011 at 8:19 am

    I may sound cynical when I say this, but this news about the positive impact on Rhode Island’s economy and various levels of the tax base is probably what will help us win marriage equality. In these times, all fifty states are looking for new forms of revenue.
    Sorry I am so late in joining this discussion. I had a Scentsy Spring Sprint training convention in Fredericksburg, VA, yesterday, and am just now getting caught up on nearly 400 emails!

    • 77. Straight Ally #3008  |  February 10, 2011 at 10:29 am

      I understand your cynicism, believe me, but I’m also fine with fighting on multiple fronts so that different arguments will win over different people. Remember Judge Tauro invoked the 10th Amendment (Tea Party’s favorite amendment) in declaring DOMA unconstitutional.

  • 78. Eddie  |  February 11, 2011 at 10:02 am

    Dr. Jennifer Roeback-Morse spoke to the RI legislature and made the following quote:

    “When slavery was abolished, all slaves became free men and women. When women obtained the right to vote, the discrimination ended with the very next election. But for children of same sex marriage, the situation will be different. When we come to our senses 30 years from now and realize that we have perpetrated a grotesque injustice, not a single child born fatherless or motherless within a same sex marriage will get his
    missing parent back. Only prevention will protect children’s rights.”

    Seems to me that she’s not up on her american history. For woemen, the discrimination has NOT ended, see current pending House Republican majority bills.


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