Metro Weekly

Study: Same-sex weddings boosted state economies by $3.8 billion

An estimated 293,000 same-sex weddings have taken place since the Supreme Court's 2015 ruling

gay wedding, same-sex marriage, economy, spending

Photo: Smart Photo Courses / Tom Pumford / Flickr

Same-sex weddings have boosted state economies by an estimated $3.8 billion since marriage equality was legalized nationwide, according to a new study.

The Supreme Court’s landmark Obergefell v. Hodges ruling struck down bans on same-sex nuptials across the U.S. in 2015., and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law has analyzed the economic impact since the ruling in terms of wedding spending by same-sex couples.

The study found that of the estimated 513,000 married same-sex couples in the U.S., more than half married after the Obergefell ruling.

Those 293,000 couples spent an estimate $3.2 billion on their weddings, with guests from out of state generating an additional $543.8 million in spending.

In addition, those weddings generated an estimated $244.1 million in state and local taxes and, in five years since the Obergefell ruling, approximately 45,000 jobs have been supported for a full year by same-sex weddings.

“Marriage equality has changed the lives of same-sex couples and their families,” Christy Mallory, lead author of the study and state and local policy director at the Williams Institute, said in a statement. “It has also provided a sizeable benefit to business and state and local governments.”

Despite some stereotypes that same-sex weddings are extravagant affairs (perhaps best exemplified in this Saturday Night Live sketch), the Williams Institute noted that direct wedding spending by same-sex couples was lower on average than for different-sex couples — $11,000 versus $15,000.

The study drew on a variety of surveys and sources to estimate the economic impact of same-sex weddings, including the 2016 Survey of Contemporary Couples & Current Wedding Trends and the 2015-2018 American Community Survey.

The Williams Institute has previously found a positive correlation between LGBTQ inclusion and equality and a country’s economic performance.

A 2018 study noted that LGBTQ inclusion “increases economic performance, measured as GDP per capita,” and provided “significant support for linkages between LGBT inclusion and stronger economies at the macroeconomic level.”

The Williams Institute noted that the findings suggested that “passing laws to recognize the rights of LGBT people in participation in the marketplace, families, and important institutions may have positive effects on the economy. Also, efforts to improve public attitudes toward LGBT people may have positive effects on the economy, either alone or in combination with legal rights.”

“More broadly, these linkages have implications for economic development policies, suggesting that they will be more effective if they are inclusive of LGBT people and enhance LGBT people’s education, health, and other human capital,” the report stated. “Also, programs that are designed to reduce violence, discrimination, and stigma against LGBT people will remove barriers to full participation in the economy, giving LGBT people — and the overall economy — the opportunity to realize their full economic potential.”

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Rhuaridh Marr is Metro Weekly's managing editor. He can be reached at

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