Activists efforts to bring marriage equality to the island are now being backed by a university report that indicates passing such legislation would boost the state’s economy.
According to the report by University of Hawaii economics professor Sumner La Croix, Hawaii could gain as much as $217 million in additional visitor spending in the 2014-2016 period should the state’s legislature pass marriage equality into law.
State and county tax revenue alone could increase by $10.2 million during that period, La Croix asserts. However, the influx of cash could vanish if lawmakers delay the decision.
“The benefits from pent-up demand for same-sex marriages are time dependent,” writes La Croix. “If Hawaii waits to adopt same-sex marriage, it will not realize these gains. They will be lost forever, diverted to other states that recognize marriage equality.”
Local activists hope the report will bring momentum to their cause.
Hawaii’s marriage equality advocates say the study should build momentum for lawmakers to act, especially given the fact Hawaii’s State Supreme Court in 1993 put the marriage equality issues on both the national and world map.
“We are talking about adding approximately $200,000 a day to Hawaii’s economy,” said Lois Perrin, founding member of Hawaii United for Marriage and ALCU-Hawaii Legal Director, in a statement.
“Plus there’s a larger issue here and it involves Hawaii’s diversity and spirit of aloha. Simply put, it’s time we end discrimination and unite the people of Hawaii that all families—gay or straight—should receive equal treatment under the law.”
Hawaii currently allows civil unions for same-sex couples.