Two U.S. states see boost from gay weddings

Thu Nov 27, 2008 7:28pm EST
 
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By Jason Szep

BOSTON (Reuters) - As same-sex marriage stalls in California and a U.S. recession looms, Massachusetts and Connecticut are carving out an economic niche for gay and lesbian weddings -- and the spending that comes with them.

While many Americans are postponing weddings as the economy weakens, gay and lesbian couples like Angela Fischer and Tami Schmidt who planned to marry in California are turning to New England instead, a prospect that economists say could have a multimillion-dollar benefit on tourism.

"We had made plans to marry in California but we scrapped that," said Fischer.

Angered by California's November 4 vote to end legal same-sex marriage, Fischer and Schmidt of Phoenix, Arizona, married 16 days later at a United Church of Christ in Hartford, Connecticut. Afterward, they held a reception with friends at a local restaurant and spent a week at a hotel.

"California's loss will be Connecticut's and Massachusetts' gain economically," said M.V. Lee Badgett, an economist at the University of Massachusetts' Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies.

She doubts the bad economy will slow the weddings.

"My sense is that gay people are aware that they can't take the right to marriage for granted -- that it could be taken away. To that extent, people may not wait to get married. They may just have cheaper weddings," she said.

She led a study released in July that said over the next three years about 32,200 same-sex couples would travel from other states to marry in Massachusetts, which became the first U.S. state to legalize gay marriage in 2004.   Continued...

 
<p>Newlyweds Sharon Papo (L) and Amber Weiss (R) stand with Patti and David Weiss outside San Francisco City Hall after exchanging wedding vows on the first full day of legal same-sex marriages in California, June 17, 2008. REUTERS/Erin Siegal</p>