On July 15th the Massachusetts State Senate voted unanimously to overturn a ninety five year old law banning marriage by out of state couples whose union would not be recognized as legal in their home states.
The 1913 law was resurrected in 2004 by then governor Mitt Romney in response to the legalization of same sex marriage. At the time Governor Romney was quoted as saying he did not want Massachusetts to become “the Las Vegas of gay marriage.” He was successful in limiting same sex marriage rights to couples who were citizens of the state.
When California legalized same sex marriage last month it imposed no such restrictions. Since that time the state’s economy has seen a boon to its tourism and wedding-related industries to the tune of millions of dollars. A recent study conducted by researchers at UCLA projected a net to California’s economy upwards of $600 million over the next three years, but they may have to adjust their predictions in light of the recent Massachusetts decision. (The bill will now go to the House, where it is expected to pass without contest.) It seems that gay and lesbian couples all over the United States will now have a choice.
The New York Times reports, "a just-released study commissioned by the State of Massachusetts concludes that in the next three years about 32,200 couples would travel here to get married, creating 330 permanent jobs and adding $111 million to the economy, not including spending by wedding guests and tourist activities the weddings might generate."
Much of the anticipated Massachusetts influx is expected to arrive from neighboring New York, where Governor David Paterson has declared that he will recognize same sex marriages performed in other states as legal unions with all accorded rights and privileges. Same sex marriages involving out of state couples performed in California and Massachusetts will undoubtedly lead to court challenges in many of the other forty eight states. While this may increase urgency on the part of opponents to pursue a federal marriage amendment there does not appear to be adequate support in Congress at this time.
Clearly, money talks and perhaps this is the silver lining to a recessed economy for gay and lesbian couples.