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Same-sex marriage does not impact Hampden County economy

Date: 5/26/2009

By Rick Sobey

Staff Intern

Recent studies conducted by UCLA's Williams Institute show that same-sex marriages have caused economic gain for Massachusetts. One study concluded that same-sex weddings have enhanced the economy, and another study discovered that the state has been attracting more creative class members than ever before.

According to the study about same-sex weddings, these ceremonies have helped Massachusetts' businesses survive difficult economic times. The study determined that average gay and lesbian couples spend $7,400 for weddings, and one in 10 couples spend more than $20,000.

M.V. Lee Badgett, a study co-author and director of the Center for Public Policy & Administration at the University of Massachusetts, believes that without gay weddings, businesses would have suffered even more during this recession. Badgett stated, "Florists, caterers, hotels, bakers, restaurants and many other businesses have gotten a share of the $111 million spent on the 12,000-plus weddings of same-sex couples. Allowing gay couples to marry won't end the recession, but their spending still helps in tough times for businesses."

The study concerning creative class professionals concluded that ever since the gay marriage bill was passed in 2004, more creative class members have moved to Massachusetts. According to Gary J. Gates, Williams Distinguished Scholar at UCLA's Williams Institute, "Data from the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey show that same-sex couples in the creative class were 2.5 times more likely to move to Massachusetts after 2004 than before. The timing of this movement to Massachusetts suggests that those couples were flocking to the first state to allow them to marry."

However, Hampden County has not seen a dramatic effect on the economy from same-sex marriage. There was not a significant amount of same-sex weddings in Hampden County when it was declared unconstitutional to only allow heterosexual couples to marry. Moreover, massive groups of creative class professionals did not move to this region.

According to Susan Egan, the City Clerk of Holyoke, there was never a surge of same-sex marriages in that city.

"Altogether, there have been 16 same-sex marriages since 2004," she stated.

In addition, Diane Foley, West Springfield's Town Clerk, said there has been a decrease in the amount of same-sex marriages after 2004.

"West Springfield had 11 same-sex marriages in 2004, seven same-sex marriages in 2005 and three same-sex marriages in 2006," said Foley. "There was some interest in same-sex marriage in 2004, but it has tapered off since that time."

According to Badgett, Hampden County has not been a popular place for same-sex marriages.

"The areas with the biggest economic impact from same-sex marriage are Boston, Cambridge, Provincetown and Northampton," said Badgett. "Many more same-sex weddings occurred in these places compared to Hampden County."

Therefore, the new studies released by UCLA's Williams Institute are not applicable to the entire state. Only certain regions of Massachusetts have been significantly impacted by the introduction of same-sex marriage.