Institute sees economic boon in same-sex nuptials

BY SHAWN GUDE | APRIL 06, 2009 7:42 AM

Iowa will likely see economic benefits after last week’s Supreme Court decision to legalize same sex marriage, according to a report.

“The Impact on Iowa’s Budget of Allowing Same-Sex Couples to Marry” — a report released by the Williams Institute in April 2008 — estimates Iowa’s budget will be buoyed by an additional $5.3 million per year, largely from additional sales taxes on wedding expenses and devoting less money to state public-assistance programs.

Over the next three years, about half of Iowa’s roughly 6,000 same-sex couples will say their wedding vows, the report states.

The Williams Institute is a think-tank that “advances sexual-orientation law and public policy,” according to its website.

According to the report:

• The state will take in approximately $1.3 million in additional income taxes from newly wed same-sex couples filing jointly. That extra cash for the state will be wiped out by the roughly $1.4 million in inheritance taxes the state will lose because of the marital deduction.

• However, the think-tank projected the state will receive an additional $2.7 million in sales taxes from couples spending money on their weddings.

• In addition, the state’s coffers will strengthen, with a drop in expenditures on public-assistance programs. Because of their new marital status, fewer same-sex couples will be eligible for public benefit programs. The state will save nearly $2.8 million in that area, the Williams Institute estimated.

• State employee benefits and administrative costs won’t have an effect on the budget.

Critics of the gay marriage ruling, such as Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, bemoan the possibility of Iowa becoming a mecca for gay marriage. Indeed, same-sex couples from border states — and possibly farther — will undoubtedly make the journey to Iowa to marry their partners.

But gay-marriage proponents such as Sen. Matt McCoy, D-Des Moines, highlight the additional revenue Iowa stands to gain from thousands of weddings, in addition to the moral high-ground they argue the state now holds.

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