Weddings touch all of our lives at one point or another. If you’re single, you’ve probably attended at least one, or have even been a part of the wedding party. And if you’re volunteer or staff member in a faith community, then you’ve probably been to more weddings than you can possibly count. For all of these reasons, it makes perfect sense to assess weddings for their personal impacts on those involved, but also for their economic impacts in society. Wedding planners, jewelers, photographers, musicians, florists, caterers, event halls and sacred spaces all play key roles in these traditions. The more weddings that take place, the more money is invested across the local economy.
For all of these reasons, it should be no surprise that the prohibition of same-sex marriage in Texas is actually hindering the state’s economy. Here are the findings from Equality Texas…
The Williams Institute released a report today that marriage for same-sex couples in Texas would add $181.6 million to the state and local economy over a three-year period. The report predicts that 23,000 Texas couples would marry, spending an average of more than $6,000 per wedding. Up to 1,500 jobs would be created in the state.
“Overall these numbers seem, if anything, conservative for the long run,” said Dr. Daniel S. Hamermesh, Professor in Economics, Royal Holloway University of London, and Sue Killam Professor in the Foundation of Economics, University of Texas at Austin. “Further, marriage for same-sex couples allows couples to be better off – creating what economists call a ‘marital surplus’ which provides an even greater economic benefit.”
The Williams Institute utilized state-level data, as well as the 2010 U.S. Census and the American Community Survey, to conservatively estimate the impact of extending marriage to same-sex couples in Texas.
“The Williams Institute report affirms that the freedom to marry is good for business in Texas,” said Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas. “Allowing gay couples to marry here would give an economic boost to caterers, florists, event venues, and others who make a living through wedding planning.
The above just talks about a couple’s wedding day, but the benefits go far beyond that. Married couples contribute more in overall tax revenue (via better retirement investments, larger goods purchases like houses/cars and saving), and cost less to taxpayers because they rely less on things like government healthcare, dependent housing, home health aides and Social Security. If one believes in being a fiscal conservative then they should also believe in marriage equality. It just makes sense.
It’s also worth remembering just how close the Lone Star State is to having full marriage equality. The only reason same-sex marriage isn’t legal in Texas today is because Republican Gubernatorial candidate Greg Abbott filed an emergency stay to stop couples from getting married. If Democrats were to win the races for Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Attorney General, things in Texas might be very different. He’s on the ballot this November, so you have a chance to tell him directly what you think of that decision.
(image credit: GLAAD.org)
Most everyone in the United States of America understands the concept of a blended family… A couple gets married, and each member of the couple already has child. In order to become a more cohesive family, that couple may cross adopt each other’s children. Given all the legal complexities associated with raising a child, this makes total sense to do with young children.
But apparently in the state of Texas, the basic rights of parenthood are not so simple for the LGBT community. As one couple in Fort Worth found out, they can even be denied rights when they are the BIOLOGICAL parents of the children. Here’s more from LGBTQnation about the tangled web that one judge has woven for this family…
A judge in Texas has denied a same-sex couple’s petition to adopt their month-old twin boys.
Jason Hannah, 36, and Joe Riggs, 33, are the proud fathers of twins Lucas and Ethan, who were born of the same surrogate mother. Each biologically fathered one of the twins, and the boys — who are half-brothers — share an egg donor. One child is biologically Hanna’s, the other is Riggs.’
But neither Hannah nor Riggs, who were married in Washington D.C. last year, are listed as fathers on either of their sons’ birth certificates. They have petitioned to add each of their names to their biological sons’ birth certificates and to cross-adopt, or second-parent adopt, the boys, reports KDFW-TV.
But the judge, who says she “strictly follows the law,” has denied the couple’s adoption request.
Currently, only the surrogate mother — who has no biological relationship to the boys, since embryos were transferred to her — is named on the twins’ birth certificates.
In case you didn’t catch it above, Jason and Joe are the biological fathers of their children… each man fathered a child separately, found a common donor mom, and had a surrogate mother (unrelated to the children) carry them to term. There are absolutely no disputing the facts in this either, considering that they had a fantastic profile in the Dallas Morning News before the babies were born!! Yet the court says that not only can the men not cross-adopt, but the ACTUAL fathers of each child cannot be listed on the child’s birth certificate? Is this even possible?? What would this judge say if a court ruled that he or she didn’t have custody of their biological children?
Whatever the outcome, this case has “United States Supreme Court” written all over it. Hopefully Jason and Joe decide to appeal this ridiculous ruling. Yet another example that proves the unending asininity of Texas’ same-sex marriage ban.
If we could travel back in time just 5 years, it would seem impossible to imagine the pace at which marriage equality is occurring today. To think that even less than 2 years ago, no popular vote granting same-sex marriage rights had been won in any state. That didn’t occur until the November 2012 elections.
But since those first wins at the ballot box in Washington state, Maine and Maryland in 2012, large parts of the United have seen nothing short of a transfiguration on LGBT marriage rights. Sometimes it seems like magic to sit and watch this play out from a southern state like Texas or Arkansas… it feels as though time is moving forward in other areas, yet we’re still stuck squarely in the past. But this swift movement towards equality was anything but magic. It was earned through the blood, sweat, voices, votes and tears of millions of people working to advance these rights. For the past several years, marriage equality has been the central orb around which the country’s largest and most powerful Civil Rights organizations have revolved. You throw all of your time and money into a cause, and hopefully you yield some results.
But a new report from The New York Times reveals that this singular focus on marriage equality is about to change. The movement itself is now turning to those that have stood patiently on the sidelines…
The country’s leading gay rights groups and donors, after a decade focused on legalizing same-sex marriage, are embarking on a major drive to win more basic civil rights and workplace protections in Southern and Western states where the rapid progress of the movement has largely eluded millions of gay men and lesbians.
The effort will shift tens of millions of dollars in the next few years to what advocates described as the final frontier for gay rights: states like Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas and Texas, where Republicans dominate elected office and traditional cultural views on homosexuality still prevail.
The new strategy reflects the growing worry within the movement that recent legal and political successes have formed two quickly diverging worlds for lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender Americans: one centered on the coasts and major cities, and another stretching across the South and up through the Rocky Mountains, in states where gays enjoy virtually no legal protections against discrimination.
“We can’t allow two distinct gay Americas to exist,” said Tim Gill, a Colorado philanthropist whose foundation is putting about $25 million into a handful of mostly conservative-leaning states over the next five years. “Everybody should have the same rights and protections regardless of where they were born and where they live.”
The push is likely to encounter resistance. Gay rights groups will be engaging in communities where churches and other religious institutions are tightly woven into daily life, and where efforts to expand civil rights protections to gays are sometimes viewed as an attack on people of faith…
In some states, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign, the American Civil Liberties Union and groups Mr. Gill helps fund plan to lobby for nondiscrimination ordinances in housing and employment and for legislation allowing gay parents to adopt. In other states, they are building new grass-roots organizations and pushing for the election of openly gay and lesbian officials where there are none.
Those involved in the planning described it as the biggest realignment of gay rights activism in a decade, one that will shift the movement’s focus into territory where there is almost no unified network of support and where gay people are more likely to hide who they are, making them more difficult to reach.
Just the American Civil Rights movement two generations ago, today’s fight for equality has always been about much more than marriage. In my opinion this shift in focus is welcome, and long overdue. When they do get to the south, they will be able to build on the great work of groups like the Campaign for Southern Equality. This fight is already being waged, but with the help of larger resources, it can be won decisively.
For this shift, organizations like the Human Rights Campaign are in capable hands. The group’s President, Chad Griffin, knows much of the territory to which he is taking this next great push. He is a native Arkansan, and grew up in the small, bucolic college town of Arkadelphia, Arkansas (full disclosure, I went to college in the very same town). Knowing the struggles that some of our most vulnerable LGBT Americans face, Griffin’s voice is sure to be an even greater attribute in this “new” frontier.
(photo credit: cogvv.com)
Appearing before a city council meeting in Springfield, Missouri, Dr. Phil Snyder, an area preacher draws stunning similarities between the arguments we hear today against LGBT equality, and the ones from yesteryear against segregation. He proves, like we suspected, that those arguments are virtually identical.
After changing the words “Racial integration” from direct quotes of white preachers from the 1950s, he replaces it with the term “gay rights”. At the end of the speech, he reveals the true intent to all. This is a video that I hope everyone not only sees, but takes a moment to think about.