Economic Report Shows Same Sex Marriage Will Boost Tourism and Hawaii’s Economy

February 5, 2013

Feb. 5, 2013 For Immediate Release

Honolulu, Hi. A new economic study says the legalization of same-sex marriage in Hawaii will provide a substantial boost to the state’s economy.

The report was authored by noted University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix.

“We find that marriage equality is likely to lead to substantial increases in visitor arrivals, visitor spending and state and county general tax revenues,” La Croix said.

The report says the impact will be felt from increased spending by same sex couples visiting the islands to marry, by their out-of state guests for both resident and non- resident ceremonies, and by out of state same-sex couples visiting Hawaii to honeymoon.

Using a multiplier effect, the report estimates that legalizing same sex marriage in Hawaii will result in total additional spending ranging from $46 million to $258 million over the 2014-2016 period.

The report also found that passage of same sex marriage legislation is not likely to lead to substantial increases in employee health insurance expenditures by either public or private employers.

The report cited a 2010 U.S. Census survey showing 3,262 self-declared same-sex cohabitation couples in Hawaii, and that 50 percent of these couples will either marry or remain in a civil union by the end of 2016 if same-sex marriages begin in Hawaii in 2014. But the report said passage of same-sex marriage legislation is likely to lead to very small increases in the number of beneficiaries…fewer than 100 people…added to a spouse’s employer provide health insurance.

Same sex marriage is now legal in nine states, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont and Washington, and the District of Columbia. Five other states, including Hawaii, provide civil unions for same sex couples, while three states provide domestic partnerships. The report noted that 30 states have enacted a constitutional ban on same sex marriages, and seven states, including Hawaii, have a statutory ban.The report said depending on their views of marriage equality, adoption of same sex marriage by the Legislature could change visitor’s perceptions of Hawaii, and their decision to visit.

“We note only that we have no reports of declines in tourism from any civil union or marriage state that can be traced to the change in the state’s recognition of same-sex relationships,” the report says.

The report also says visitor spending by same sex couples will increase in Hawaii if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns California’s Proposition 8 or if the court rules in other cases that would lead to federal recognition of same-sex marriages.

Contact: Jim McCoy Ho’akea Communications 808-543-8374 808-282-3440