Chief city economist Edmund Egan testified today that the state ban on gay marriage is costing San Francisco millions in lost revenue and increased services.  Although Egan could not precisely quantify how much the city would have gained if it had allowed same sex marriage, he estimated the number was around $2.6 million in hotel and sales tax revenue every year.

The figure cited by Egan was based on the roughly 5100 marriage licenses that were issued in San Francisco when gay marriage was legal in 2008 for a 5 month duration.  Egan’s logic derived from the assumption that if San Francisco experienced an uptick in weddings, economic activity related to weddings would also increase.

Further testimony was given that the city had seen higher mental health costs due to discrimination against gays with projected costs at $2.5 million.  Egan indicated that San Francisco must spend more on health care for uninsured workers because same-sex couples are not always covered under their partner’s employee health care plans.  Testimony given by the city was clear; the ban on gay marriage has a negative economic impact on incoming tax revenue.

Credit:  David Paul Morris / Getty ImagesThe present ban on same-sex marriage gets heard in a California federal court today to determine the issue of allowing gay marriage.   Plaintiffs have purportedly made it known their intentions of taking the issue of same sex marriage all the way to the Supreme Court should the judiciary derail their efforts at allowing gay couples to marry.  Although only five other states have allowed same sex marriage, it has all been the result of judicial decisions or legislation.  No popular vote in any state has yet permitted gay marriage.

The one tweak to today’s court case is that it is going to be aired on YouTube.  This is the first time a federal case has been permitted to be broadcast online which begs the question, why is this being done?  Courts have historically been an open affair, permitting the public, media and others to come and view proceedings whenever they choose.  Proposition 8 supporters have vigorously opposed the televising of the trial believing it would subject their supporters to “harassment.” Prop 8 opponents support the distribution of the content citing the First Amendment as the main reason there is no reason to deny the trial to be aired.  The judge has the power to determine what scope the cameras may or may not be allowed.

The attorneys believe the case should last two weeks but there is no doubt the issue itself will reign for generations of debate and controversy.  Note that the case will be taped and then posted to YouTube.  You won’t find it live, but you can always check here for updates.


Credit: David Paul Morris / Getty ImagesAs of January 1, New Hampshire will become the 6th state to allow gay marriage.  The law recognizes out of state gay marriages and civil unions which are legal.  Although the New Hampshire legislature voted to reject the bill earlier in the month, they changed language in the revised one that passed allowing clergy and religious institutions the right to decline to marry same-sex couples.

New Hampshire joins Connecticut,  Massachusettes, Vermont, Maine and Iowa who have all passed legislation allowing gay marriage.   A report from the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law recently found that over 12,000 same sex marriages have been performed in Massachusettes since 2004 and has pumped over $111 million into the state’s economy.

Gay Marriage Denied In Maine

rainbowThe special elections in Maine took a turn similar to California’s vote at the ballot box last November when the voters declined to approve of same sex marriage.  Maine would have been the first state to have same sex marriage approved at the ballot box.  Although five states which include Iowa, Massachusettes, Vermont, New Hampshire and Connecticut have legalized gay marriage, it has been the result of either court decisions or the legislature.  Gay marriage has failed to win the popular vote in any state to date. 

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