RENO, NV - A new study released by the Williams Institute finds legalizing same-sex marriage in the state of Nevada could add millions of dollars into the economy.
The Williams Institute, a national think tank at the UCLA School of Law found an estimated 50% of the roughly 3,570 same-sex couples in Nevada would opt to marry within the first three years, a pattern that has been observed in Massachusetts and 18 other states that have already legalized marriage. These numbers are based on 2010 U.S. Census data of the number of gay and lesbian couples living in Nevada
According to the study, legalizing same-sex marriage would generate $52 million in spending for the state economy in the first three years, and $4.2 million in state and local tax revenue.
"It's important to note those numbers only take into account the couples in Nevada," Ward Curtin, state director for Freedom Nevada said. "That number is expected to increase since couples may come from other states to be married here."
Nevada currently allows same-sex couples to file for domestic partnership, but law makers during the last legislative session took the first steps in repealing the state's constitutional ban on same-sex marriage.
Senate Joint Resolution 13 would change the state's definition of marriage and recognize all marriages, regardless of the couples' gender. SJR 13 must pass again during the 2015 legislative session before it can be sent to the voters as a ballot measure during the 2016 elections.
"Well the momentum is clearly on the side of marriage equality," Curtin said. "Here in the state we have a 57% approval rating, and it's just another step towards full equality for loving, committed couples."
Prop 2 was approved in 2000 and 2002 by approximately two-thirds of the vote.
There is another avenue for marriage equality.
In November 2012 U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones upheld Nevada’s ban on same-sex marriage, finding the state's definition did not violate the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This September, a judge in the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments on behalf of 8 Nevada couples who sued Nevada back in 2012 for the right to marry.
As the leader of the state, Governor Brian Sandoval was originally listed as a party in the suit to defend the definition, but the state is no longer defending its definition of marriage.
"If a positive decision comes down and because the Attorney General and the Governor have announced they won't appeal a decision, people could be getting married as a result even before a ballot question is proposed," Curtin said.
If the judge decides to repeal the state's ban, Nevada could become the 20th state to legalize same-sex marriages.
To read the study for yourself, click the link to the right.