Supreme Court decision is good for businesses

Not only did the U.S. Supreme Court affirm the right of all of Wisconsin’s citizens to marry who they love, the court also paved the way to help strengthen our state’s economy.

At the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, we are incredibly excited about the economic impact that this decision will have for our members and for our state economy as a whole.

In a short-term sense, the benefits are clear. Weddings are very expensive, and an influx of marriages means a great deal of spending is happening all at once, and better yet it’s happening locally. A study done last year by the Williams Institute at UCLA predicted that marriage equality in Illinois would generate $54 million to $103 million in new spending in the state over the first three years that marriage is allowed.

The providers of wedding flowers, food, music, and venues are all local, and likely small businesses. Whereas our neighboring state used to benefit from Wisconsin same-sex couples traveling across the border to get married, now Wisconsin businesses reap the rewards of these nuptials, and the state keeps the sales tax revenues as well. While the exact numbers in Wisconsin are unclear, it is clear that same-sex marriage will bring a welcome boost to our state economy and tax rolls for years to come.

That’s why on Nov. 13, the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce is proud to be sponsoring the LGBT Wedding Expo from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Radisson Milwaukee West by Mayfair Mall. With nearly a month to go, we’ve nearly reached capacity with the number of vendors we can fit into the space. In addition, we’ve already received countless calls from couples looking to plan their special day that want to do business with those that share their values.

The immediate benefits of marriage equality provide millions of dollars of stimulus to local businesses, but the short-term benefits do not even begin to tell the whole story. These new marriages create families in Wisconsin that will have a lasting, observable impact on our economy.

Marriage equality helps Wisconsin recruit and retain diverse talent. People want to move to and live in a place that is welcoming and accepting of who they are. In today’s global economy, potential employees could go anywhere they wanted. If we want to keep the best and brightest here in our state, showing our inclusivity through marriage equality is one way to do that. Because of the federal decision, we don’t need to worry about people leaving Wisconsin and heading to Illinois or Minnesota where they can be respected in their entirety. This in and of itself is a key component of how we grow our business community. Having the best and brightest want to move here and work here is how we make sure our businesses thrive.

As Wisconsin’s LGBT families continue to grow and prosper, so too will our state economy. We look forward to seeing marriage equality translate into a positive force for our economy and local businesses, and consequently giving our state the best of both worlds.

Jason Rae is executive director of the Wisconsin LGBT Chamber of Commerce, an organization of gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and LGBT-allied businesses, corporations and professionals throughout the state of Wisconsin. It offers networking opportunities, business development efforts within the LGBT community and educational programming to its members.

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