Hawaii stands to gain $217 million in additional visitor spending if the state’s Legislature passes a marriage-equality law, according to a new report by the University of Hawaii Economics Research Organization (UHERO).
UHERO’s Sumner La Croix, the lead author of the report, added that state and county tax revenues would also increase by more than $10 million between 2014 and 2016 if the state says aloha to equality.
However, the economic flurry is time sensitive.
“If Hawaii waits to adopt same-sex marriage, it will not realize these gains,” La Croix said in the report. “They will be lost forever, diverted to other states that recognize marriage equality.”
Legislators told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser last week they don’t have the two-thirds support needed to call themselves back into session.
Meanwhile, the Williams Institute, an independent think tank at the UCLA School of Law focusing on sexual orientation and gender identity, found that 54 percent of Hawaiians supported same-sex marriage in 2012. Only Massachusetts and Connecticut had a higher rate of support – 57 percent.
The report says the money would come not only from same-sex couples coming to Hawaii to marry and honeymoon, but also from in-state same-sex couples not having to travel elsewhere to marry.
Same-sex marriage is legal in 13 states and the District. Hawaii allows civil unions, but does not allow gay marriage.
La Croix said nearly 2,000 same-sex couples living in Hawaii could be married by the end of 2016.
[Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.]