SONOMA COUNTY STUDY FORECASTS ECONOMIC GAIN FROM SAME SEX MARRIAGE

The defeat next month of the state proposition that seeks to prohibit same sex marriages could mean hundreds of new jobs and millions of dollars in personal, business and government revenue from same-sex weddings over the next three years in Sonoma County, according to a study released today.

The report was prepared by Sonoma State University’s Center for Regional Economic Analysis and was paid for by a grant from the Horizons Foundation, a philanthropic social justice organization serving lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender communities in the Bay Area.

Details of the report were highlighted by Robert Eyler, Chair of Sonoma State’s Department of Economics and the Center’s director at a luncheon this afternoon attended by state and local officials and members of the No on 8 Campaign.

The report concludes 430 to 865 new jobs would be created between 2009 and 2011 from same-sex weddings in Sonoma County and new wages for new and existing workers will total $13.7-$27.6 million.

New state and local government tax and other revenue is estimated $2.4-$4.8 million and new business revenue would be $40.2-$80.7 million, according to the report.

The report estimates 1,534 same-sex couples from around the country will travel to Sonoma County to marry between 2009 and 2011. Of that number, 1,496 couples will be from California, the state with the most same sex couples.

“The major policy recommendation from this study is to market Sonoma County, especially its availability by air from Los Angeles, as a destination wedding location to same-sex households throughout the United States, specifically outside of California if Proposition 8 is defeated,”
Eyler concluded.

“Natural tourism flows, the county’s welcoming reputation, and its desirability as a backdrop for ‘destination weddings’ could draw a certain proportion of same-sex couples to plan a wedding and reception in Sonoma County, as well as stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants and visit local wineries and other tourist attractions,” Eyler said.

Many of the jobs that will be created are in categories that could attract Sonoma County residents who may currently be unemployed or under-employed, Eyler said.

“This is especially true for working mothers, as many of these jobs are likely to be flexible in scheduling,” Eyler said.

Tax revenues could be directed to augment social services for lower-income working families; approximately $900,000 to $1.8 million in revenue will go for human, health, police and fireMservices, according to the report.

Napa County officials also will likely react to the defeat of Proposition 8 and position their county to compete for same-sex wedding revenue, Eyler said.

Asked if the current economic and tight credit conditions would dissuade same-sex couples from traveling to Sonoma County to marry, Eyler said, “If people want to get married they will spend the money. It won’t hurt the numbers that much, if at all.”

See Related: CALIFORNIA WILL CHANGE MARRIAGE LICENSES TO READ ‘BRIDE’ AND ‘GROOM’

See Related: MARRIAGE EQUALITY

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