Legalizing same-sex marriage could bring tax windfall to states

The results of a recent study conducted by the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation at the UCLA School of Law demonstrate that legalizing same-sex marriages in the state of Maryland would provide an additional $3.2 million in annual tax revenue to the state.

According to the UCLA research, the loss of revenue from transfer taxes and increased spending on state employee benefit programs for same-sex partners would be outweighed by a reduction in spending on public benefit programs and an increase in sales tax revenue from weddings.

In addition, "All those dollars spent on hotels and parties and other aspects of weddings would bring just about $100 million a year to the state's businesses, and that leads to sales tax revenue," said M.V. Lee Badgett, a co-author of the study.

The Williams Institute has conducted similar surveys in eight other states; all have found an economic benefit from legalizing gay marriage. The reports echo a 2004 analysis by the Congressional Budget Office that found a modest boon to the federal budget - less than $1 billion a year - if same-sex marriage were legalized nationwide.

Those who oppose same-sex marriages have argued that legalizing same-sex unions would undermine traditional families and lead to homosexuality being taught in schools.

Maryland Delegate Christopher Shank, the House minority whip, commented that the projected tax revenue from legalization of same-sex unions would not be enough money to change anybody's mind about the issue.

"To try to use an economic argument to somehow sweeten the pot, I think, would fall on deaf ears," said Shank, a Washington County Republican. The economic benefits, he added, "don't outweigh to me the negative societal damage of legalizing homosexual marriage."

When the state legislature convenes after the first of the year, Equality Maryland, a group that describes itself as Maryland's lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender civil rights organization, plans to push for the introduction of a bill that would legalize civil marriage for same-sex couples while specifying that no clergy would be forced to perform marriages that they oppose.

Meanwhile, Delegate Don Dwyer, R-Anne Arundel, plans to introduce a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, as he has in previous legislative sessions. A state law already exists that bans gay marriage in Maryland.

Massachusetts is the only state that allows same-sex marriage, but nine other states have approved spousal rights in some form for same-sex couples - California, Connecticut, Hawaii, Maine, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Oregon, Vermont and Washington.

Maryland's Governor, Martin O'Malley, a Democrat, has voiced support for civil unions. Maryland Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller, also a Democrat, has said that he won't support gay marriage or civil unions and that supporters don't have the votes in the legislature.

You can read the complete study.

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