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Marriage equality would bring Rhode Island more than $1 million

Marriage equality

By Jacob Combs

The AP reports that a new study out from UCLA shows that marriage equality would have a significant positive impact on the Rhode Island economy:

The Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles School of Law says Rhode Island stands to generate nearly $1.2 million in new government revenue over three years if the state allows gay and lesbian couples to marry.

The new revenue would come primarily in the form of additional tax revenue. The study estimates that same-sex weddings would generate $400,000 in new sales tax dollars over three years.

Also, married couples filing their state taxes jointly would pay an estimated $786,000 in new income taxes over the same period.

At the risk of repeating myself, the evidence just keeps mounting for why it’s time for marriage equality in Rhode Island.  Lawmakers in New Jersey, Maryland and Washington have all led on the issue this year.  Rhode Island could join the tide of history that seems to be cresting in 2012.  If not, it’s at risk of being the one also-ran that couldn’t get to the finish line.  If you live in the Ocean State, contact your legislators.  The voices of opposition in Rhode Island are strong, so those on our side need to step up and call for the state legislature to pass the law that is long overdue in their state.


  • 1. James Sweet  |  March 23, 2012 at 9:51 am

    One thing I've wondered about with the estimates of how much additional revenue a state brings in when they recognize marriage equality… would that number be dampened if e.g. there was a SCOTUS ruling bringing marriage equality to all 50 states simultaneously? e.g. how much of that additional sales tax revenue is from RI residents and how much is from people who would come from other states to marry in RI?

    (Note that it is merely idle curiosity that drives me to ask this… even if marriage equality was a revenue loss, it would still be the right thing to do.)

  • 2. Jamie  |  March 23, 2012 at 10:43 am

    About 3/4 of the revenue projected was from income taxes of the residents of Rhode Island, which would remain whether or not other states had marriage equality. Only $400,000 was from weddings. I'm not sure how many they estimated were from in-state vs. out of state residents getting married in Rhode Island, but even if you assume 50/50, the state still stands to gain $1,000,000 over three years in additional tax revenue.

  • 3. Larry  |  March 23, 2012 at 11:37 am

    The analysis doesn't make sense to me. Couples in a RI civil union now file in the same brackets as married couples so changing that to marriage shouldn't add any additional income tax. For the people who chose not to enter a civil union, when they're able to get married, their income tax would usually go down if they file jointly (and should stay the same if they file married-separately). My husband and my NY income taxes went down by ~$400 after we got married, and our federal taxes would have gone down $3000 if it was recognized. But maybe I'm missing some strange single+head of household –> married jointly conversion in RI.

  • 4. Bill S.  |  March 26, 2012 at 12:36 am

    There are a lot of state-level rights in Rhode Island that are tied to federal benefits. I don't know exactly how it works, but there have been a lot of complaints that civilly united couples cannot access many state-level benefits they should, if civil unions are truly "separate but equal," because they are intertwined with the federal definition of marriage (e.g. what you can claim on your state income tax return will depend on how much you pay on your federal return.)

  • 5. Glen  |  March 23, 2012 at 11:18 am

    So how realistic is the possibility that Rhode Island could get on the bandwagon of passing a marriage equality bill this year?

    Is it a long shot or a real possibility?

  • 6. karen in kalifornia  |  March 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm

    Glen, Heavily Catholic RI. and in this case Democrats, are influenced by their parishes….The quotes from some Italian American Democrat Legislators were discouraging when it came to equality. Don't forget the RI CU bill which did pass allows religious institutions AND individuals working in them to not recognize ss couples. Catholic hospitals and and random employee in that hospital can refuse to recognize a ss legal relationship with the state. Hence, at last count, the number of couples who have gotten a state legal RI CU in the past year is only in the 40's.

  • 7. Straight Dave  |  March 23, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    RI CU's are viewed as close to worthless, at least as far as respect goes. Technically you get some stuff from the state but it isn't much, especially when coupled with officially-condoned private disrespect. When almost anybody living in RI can drive to an equality state in 30 minutes and get a marriage that's officially recognized in RI, I don't know why anyone would get a CU now. It's an amazingly tiny place for those of you out in the big states.

  • 8. Bill S.  |  March 26, 2012 at 12:37 am

    Rhode Island DOES NOT recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages. A former attorney general wrote a position paper where he expressed his opinion that RI could be able to recognize them, but this has never been given the force of law.

  • 9. Straight Dave  |  March 23, 2012 at 11:49 am

    I've got relatives in the state and it seems like the voters would be perfectly fine with it according to most polls, but the legislature is a bit dysfunctional at the moment. The fact the state is heavily Catholic (liberal Catholic) is probably an advantage these days, unless the politicians pay more attention to the bishops. I never bet money on RI politics, but they could also surprise us out of the blue. I think it's more likely they will wait for Maine and then start feeling very guilty next year. Everyone from NY and eastward will be staring at them.

  • 10. Fr. Bill  |  March 23, 2012 at 12:04 pm

    For whatever reason, RI is a case by itself among the New England states. It has never been forward thinking in planning anything – especially economic development. The good news is that they seem to finally have gotten rid of much of the influence of the Mafia. Perhaps now it is time to put other institutions of dubious moral authority in their proper place when it concerns determining the civil rights of its taxpaying citizens.

  • 11. _BK_  |  March 24, 2012 at 4:33 am

    I for one am simply baffled as to how Rhode Island has failed to enact marriage equality. :

  • 12. Bill S.  |  March 26, 2012 at 12:40 am

    Our state government is entirely incompetant. It is absolutely horribly run from the top down. I am willing to bet that Rhode Island will never voluntarily legalize same-sex marriage without court order, either from the RI Supreme Court or a federal court (I really think that, with the "separate but equal" civil union law, we could be successful at at least the District Court level and our governor is pro-equality, so he wouldn't have to appeal!)

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