New England economy could see gay-marriage boost

Thu Jun 4, 2009 4:57pm EDT
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By Scott Malone

BOSTON (Reuters) - The expansion of legal gay marriage across New England could deliver an economic windfall by attracting a youthful "creative class" of workers to a region with an aging population.

In the past year, Connecticut, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine have joined Massachusetts, which in 2004 became the first U.S. state to allow same-sex weddings, in blessing gay and lesbian weddings.

That makes the region the first in the United States where same-sex couples can move from one state to another while retaining marriage benefits.

New arrivals include John Visser and Nick Keffer, who recently moved to Hartford, Connecticut, from Raleigh, North Carolina. They plan to wed later this month.

"The sole, only reason why we moved was because it was now legal for us to get married here," said Visser, 42. "No other reason whatsoever other than marriage equality. We were perfectly happy in North Carolina."

New England has long burnished an image of tolerance. Early European settlers in the 17th-century escaped religious persecution, although they imposed their own stern doctrines and sometimes expelled dissenters. Later, the region led the right for the abolition of black slavery.

Five out of the region's six states now endorse gay weddings after New Hampshire legalized same-sex marriage on Wednesday, leaving Rhode Island as the sole holdout.

The spread of gay marriage could serve as a recruiting tool for universities, health care companies and financial services firms that dominate the region's economy, experts said.   Continued...

<p>Gay marriage supporter Josh Drew shows off his wedding ring outside the Massachusetts State House in Boston November 9, 2006. REUTERS/Brian Snyder</p>