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Economics Still Drive Equality

Though perhaps it's best for equality to derive from more enlightened attitudes, in some cases, economics remain the most effective force to drive progress. Following a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that directed the Legislature to accord benefits of marriage to same-sex couples, the Legislature is now debating whether to legalize gay marriage as opposed to a system of civil unions, with marriage benefits. And what is causing some to take a look at the marriage option are the economic benefits that it would bring to New Jersey, according to this article (Press of Atlantic City, 12/14/06). From the article:

The UCLA School of Law study predicts that New Jersey wedding- and tourism-related businesses would cash in to the tune of $102.5 million per year for the first three years, while state coffers would get $7.2 million per year in tax revenue for those years, all from introducing a gay marriage market. “New Jersey would have no competition from other states for the expected influx of wedding-related visitors,” the study's author, M.V. Lee Badgett, said. Badgett is the research director at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Public Policy, an academic think tank at the California school.

By contrast, authorizing civil unions would not bring the same benefits, because many other states allow them already. 

Of course, not all legislators are moved by the economic arguments. The article quotes Assemblyman Jeff Van Drew, who argues:

Sometimes you have to look beyond dollars and cents. This is an issue far greater than dollar value. It has social, ethical, religious and legal implications. Our job is to fulfill the legal issue, and we can do that with civil unions,” Van Drew said.

Posted by Carolyn Elefant on December 15, 2006 at 05:30 PM | Permalink | Comments (2)

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