Gay Marriage Pays?

For all the saviors of civilization out there who say gay marriage would be a big hit to Iowa taxpayers, here’s something to chew on from UCLA — a study that argues same-sex unions would actually increase state tax revenues.

Maybe there’s an Iowa-specific study on the other side, with actual numbers and not just a bunch of “Good vs. Evil” fear rhetoric, but I haven’t seen it. Certainly they’ll dismiss this as lefty propaganda, but it’s pretty interesting. Here’s the media release.

LOS ANGELES – Today, the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law released a new research study estimating that same-sex marriage in Iowa, if permitted, would have a positive impact on the state budget of approximately $5.3 million annually. This net impact will be the result of an increase in state income and sales tax revenue as well as savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs. The full text of the report is available at


“This study demonstrates that equal marriage rights for same-sex couples are not only good for those couples, but they’re good for the state budget,” noted co-author Lee Badgett, the research director of the Williams Institute. “Iowa’s policymakers do not need to worry about the impact of this policy change on the state’s fiscal health.”

In calculating the net benefit to the State, the study approximates that half of Iowa’s 5,833 same-sex couples, or 2,917 couples, would marry in the first three years of being able. The study estimates that the state would see an increase in income tax revenue of over $1.2 million per year, but a loss of approximately $1.4 million in inheritance tax revenue.

The study also finds that same-sex weddings and associated tourism would generate $160 million in spending over three years, providing a boon to the state economy. Further due to this spending, the state would see an increase in sales tax revenue of about $2.7 million per year.

In addition to overall increased tax revenue, the study finds that same-sex marriage in Iowa would result in a decrease in state expenditures on means-tested public benefits programs, saving the State at least $100,000 per year and as much as $2.8 million. The study also concludes that the impact of permitting same-sex couples to marry on the cost of state employee retirement benefits would be negligible. Negligible effects would also be felt in state court and administrative systems because fees paid by couples will cover any costs generated by same-sex marriage.

The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers and the public. This study can be accessed at the Williams Institute website,




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5 responses to “Gay Marriage Pays?

  1. Hildegrad

    This is very interesting, but no one cares. This is a good v. evil issue for almost everyone and economic ramifications are beside the point for all parties. Another problem: It’s from UCLA. It needed to come from in-state, and preferably not from that bit of Johnson County that really doesn’t belong here, but certainly not LA. I suppose it could have been worse: UC-Berkley.

  2. Joel

    Actually, I care and I appreciate that you have choosen to write this up on your blog. The study adds credibility to what those in favor of gay marriage have been saying all along. That allowing gay marriage would benefit everyone.

  3. Hildegrad

    Look, I support gay marriage. It’s just that this won’t change anyone’s mind. And TD: Put up a CAPTCHA and let us comment freely. You’ll get a lot more action and you’re not legally responsible for what other people post.

  4. Stephen

    “This is a good v. evil issue for almost everyone”

    That makes it sound like 90% or more would say that this is a “good vs evil” proposition, but I think the real number is less than 50%. And some of those, while agreeing that this is a “good vs evil” proposition, will feel that the good side is to allow the marriages and the evil side is to disallow them … so, the number of “good vs evil” folks who oppose marriage equality will be even less …

    “economic ramifications are beside the point for all parties”

    There are plenty of folks out there that will trot this “economic ramifications” argument out, when they see the moral/biblical arguments aren’t getting them anywhere …

  5. John D

    Does the state get more cash? Absolutely.

    My husband and I did our taxes this year. Individual Federal forms. Then a “dummy” Federal return to do our California taxes. Then we calculated our California forms as if we were single to determine our relative hit.

    Short answer: the State of California got more money out of us since registered domestic partners must file as married. The Federal government got less money out of us since same-sex couples cannot file as married.

    If my rights come with a price tag, I will pay it with a smile on my face. Cash for rights? Sounds fine to me.

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