More than 10 years ago, Massachusetts made history as the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Since then, many more states have embraced gay marriage, and federal courts across the country are considering whether constitutional gay marriage bans in several states, including Nevada, will stand.
Nevadans should hope the ban here is struck down soon, if not for reasons of compassion, then at least for the economic benefits.
Las Vegas is heavily dependent on tourism. Almost 40 million people visited last year, according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. We’ve been called the Wedding Capital of the World.
But every time a same-sex couple wants to get married here but can’t, Nevada loses.
When couples marry, they pay for a marriage license, arrange hotel stays, eat at restaurants, take in local attractions and buy souvenirs, among many other expenses.
Untold numbers have left our state to marry. How many more would come here to marry if it were legal? What’s that costing Nevada?
Now we have an inkling. A recent report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law predicted the economic impact to Nevada if gay marriage were legalized. Over the first three years, it would be tens of millions of dollars, analysts found.
Using wedding spending data and 2010 census figures on same-sex couples living in Nevada, the report found:
• As many as 3,570 couples could marry within the first three years, boosting state and local economies by $52 million, with as much as $34 million generated in the first year.
• That could add $1.8 million to $4.2 million in tax dollars to state and local coffers.
• As many as 449 jobs could be created.
Notably, the report doesn’t account for out-of-state visitors, meaning the findings represent just a portion of the actual economic impact.
When the report came out, representatives from casino companies including MGM Resorts International and Caesars Entertainment hailed not only the economic advantages of same-sex marriage for Nevada, but also its social benefit to the larger community. It’s just the right thing to do.
“It is a matter of equality, respect and inclusiveness for our diverse population,” said Phyllis James, MGM Resorts’ chief diversity officer.
Gay marriage makes sense for Nevada. My wife and I would rather have celebrated our wedding at home. When it’s legal here, we’ll do that, keeping our money where we live.