Legalize gay marriage, kickstart the recovery?

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The debate over same-sex marriage often rests upon the authority Leviticus. However, the Bible, while filled with heavenly wisdom, sometimes does not provide the best modern legislative guide (see Deuteronomy 12: 11-12, for instance). Esoteric debates on natural rights and Judeo-Christian morality have merit, but nothing is more successful in wooing me in one direction over another than a well-calculated spreadsheet.

A study by the Williams Institute at University of California, Los Angeles, (PDF) does just that. It analyzes the impact of legalization of gay marriage in Massachusetts, then extrapolates the data and applies its findings to California’s economy. What follows is nothing short of an economic justification for gay marriage.

The study forecast the following trajectory: an initial wave of marriages – a result the significant built up demand among pre-existing, committed same-sex couples – followed by the gradual tapering off, with the overall marriage rate showing a lasting increase.

This wedding bubble would have following economic effects: Gay couples would spend nearly $700 million on wedding services over a three-year period’ Over 2000 jobs would be created in the nuptial industry. Allowing economic activity to take place is the key to growth. Another study by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported that the liberalization of marriage requirements across all 50 states would generate an additional $1 billion in revenue annually.

Furthermore, legalization would almost certainly encourage gay immigration. Given the acrimonious debate in the UK over immigration in general, let's take a minute to justify a policy that would specifically increase gay immigration.

People in same-sex unions have higher rates of college education than those in straight partnerships (40% vs. 27%), which is shown to be negatively correlated with criminality. Gay couples tend to be wealthier than their straight counterparts (average household incomes of $80,610 and $73,655, respectively). And of course, gay couple are just cooler (difficult to quantify, but impossible to deny – some would call it cultural capital).

While the debate has so far defined gay marriage as a political issue, it can be framed as a question of market freedom as well. The gender restriction on marriage ought to be abolished. The UK should liberalize its marriage market by removing the moral monopoly that currently exists.