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Saturday, June 25, 2011

The Moral Triumph and Economics of Same-Sex Marriage

Discrimination anywhere is a threat to civil liberty everywhere. The passing of the marriage-equality bill in New York is a veritable triumph of freedom and equality. Denying marriage rights to others on the account of a narrow definition which, confines marriage only to males and females confronts and contradicts universal and fundamental liberties. No body or segment of society, regardless of their moral or religious claims has any authority to define, police or regulate marital choice, same-sex or otherwise.

Governor Andrew Cuomo signed New York's same-sex marriage into law less than two hours after the New York State Senate the Republican-led State Senate approved the measure. Cuomo could not wait the usual 10 days.

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has compared the fight for gay-marriage rights with the civil-rights battles of the 1960s. Advocates are heralding the approval as a historic step not only in the Empire state but also in the effort to allow same-sex marriages nationally. It makes New York the sixth state in the nation — and by far, the largest — to legalize gay marriage.

What is more interesting is the economics of the marriage-equality law.

In a recent Op-Ed, John Mack, chairman of Morgan Stanley wrote, “ to remain a global economic leader, New York must compete for intellectual capital, and marriage equality is one more way to attract the best and the brightest, regardless of sexual orientation”.

A law approving same-sex nuptials would provide $142 million in economic benefit to New York City and $184 million to the state during the three years following its enactment, a 2007 report from the New York City comptroller’s office found. The state would collect about $8 million more in taxes and fees, and save more than $100 million in health-care outlays. The city would collect about $7 million in taxes and fees and experience no impact on outlays, the report estimated.

Same-sex domestic partners of state and city agency employees already receive health benefits, making it “unlikely that the public sector would incur additional costs due to spousal health benefits” if same-sex marriage is legalized, the report said. The same is true of pension costs, it said.

In a depressed housing market, greater economic security resulting from marriage may spark more home buying and generate more tax revenue, the report said. Many of the largest private employers based in New York already offer health benefits to same-sex domestic partners.

Andrew Cuomo’s signature is expected to lead to a crush of gay weddings in the next 30 days.

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