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Supporters of gay marriage hold rainbow-colored flags as they rally in front of the Supreme Court in Washington March 27, 2013. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Gay marriage could add $50 million to Colorado’s economy

Allowing gay marriage could add as much as $50 million to Colorado’s economy over three years, according to a new study by UCLA’s Williams Institute.

The spending would be on wedding services and visits by out of town guests. The boon would support jobs for some 436 people and would also increase state and local taxes by an additional $3.7 million, the study concluded.

Colorado currently allows gay couples to enter into civil unions that are nearly identical to heterosexual marriages, but same-sex marriages are prohibited in the state constitution.

Several groups are working to repeal that prohibition, however, and if they’re successful, the state could reap the financial benefits, the study’s authors say.

“If the State of Colorado grants same-sex couples the right to marry, we predict that the State will see a surge in spending related to weddings by same-sex couples who currently reside in Colorado, as well as an increase in tourism spending by wedding guests from other states,” the report concludes. “This increase in spending would benefit Colorado’s wedding and tourism-related businesses and would generate additional tax revenue for state and local coffers.”

Colorado has more than 12,000 same-sex couples, according to Census data. The study predicts that if gay marriage were allowed, based on the experience of other states, half of those couples would wed within the first three years.

The study’s authors estimated that same-sex couples would spend about a quarter of the amount on their weddings as heterosexual couples.

“Due to societal discrimination, same-sex couples may receive less financial support from their parents and other family members to cover wedding costs, resulting in overall reduced spending,” the report reads.

Still, it estimates that such spending would boost the wedding industry by $40 million.

The study further estimates that a typical gay couple would invite 16 out of state guests to the nuptials, a figure based on a study of gay weddings in Massachusetts. Their spending — on meals, lodging and car rentals — would add to another $10 million in spending.

“We’ve already known that marriage would give committed couples here in Colorado the opportunity to make a lifetime promise to each other and protect their families the same way everyone else does,” Dave Montez, executive director of One Colorado, told Denver’s Fox 31.

“Now we know that marriage equality would also benefit our economy and contribute to the state’s bottom line.”

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