New report: Marriage equality will boost Hawaii’s tourism, economy

July 25, 2013

HawaiiEcon1An economic study completed in the wake of two recent U.S. Supreme Court decisions concludes that if Hawaii’s Legislature passes a marriage equality law, Hawaii would gain $217 million in additional visitor spending in the 2014-2016 period. The report also says state and county tax revenues would increase by $10.2 million during that period.

But the report by University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix warns that those dollars will disappear if Hawaii lawmakers delay a decision on legalizing same-sex marriage.

“The benefits from pent-up demand for same-sex marriages are time dependent. If Hawaii waits to adopt same-sex marriage, it will not realize these gains. They will be lost forever, diverted to other states that recognize marriage equality,” La Croix concludes in his report.

Thirteen states and the District of Columbia have legalized same-sex marriages.  Hawaii has a civil unions law, but does not allow gay couples to marry.

Hawaii’s marriage equality advocates say the study should build momentum for lawmakers to act, especially given the fact Hawaii’s State Supreme Court in 1993 put the marriage equality issues on both the national and world map.

“We are talking about adding approximately $200,000 a day to Hawaii’s economy,” said Lois Perrin, founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage and ALCU-Hawaii Legal Director.  “Plus there’s a larger issue here and it involves Hawaii’s diversity and spirit of aloha.  Simply put, it’s time we end discrimination and unite the people of Hawaii that all families—gay or straight—should receive equal treatment under the law,” Perrin said.

The La Croix report is an update of a study released in February that concluded marriage equality will boost the state’s economy, primarily through increased tourism. The new report focuses on the June 24, 2013 high court decisions that struck down a key section of the Defense of Marriage Act and cleared the way for legal same-sex marriage in California.

The study says the two high court decisions “have substantially increased the short-term and medium-term benefits that could accrue to Hawaii if the Hawaii State Legislature enacts legislation allowing same-sex marriages to begin in Fall 2013 or early in 2014.”

The report said Hawaii’s tourism industry provides a channel through which “the economic impact of marriage equality could be greatly magnified, as marriage equality will attract U.S. Mainland same-sex couples and their guests to visit Hawaii to marry, honeymoon, and participate in wedding celebrations.”