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New Study Examines Economic Impact of Same-Sex Marriages on Sonoma County
SAN FRANCISCO - In a report published today, the Center for Regional Economic Analysis estimated that same-sex marriages would have significant, positive impacts on the Sonoma County economy over the next three years. The estimates derive from the large number of same-sex couples in California, Sonoma County’s tourism patterns, its desirability as a location for “destination weddings,” and expected wedding expenditures. The independent study was funded by Horizons Foundation, the Bay Area’s lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community foundation.
Many same-sex couples are likely to choose Sonoma County for their weddings: California has the largest number of same-sex couples of any state in the U.S., and various tourism studies agree that most of Sonoma County’s tourism is generated from within California itself. Given natural tourism flows, the county’s welcoming reputation, and its desirability as a backdrop for “destination weddings,” Sonoma County would draw a certain proportion of same-sex couples from California and around the country to plan a wedding and reception, as well as stay in local hotels, eat at local restaurants, and visit local wineries and other tourism attractions.
The Economic Impact of Same-Sex Weddings on Sonoma County also estimates the follow-on effects that derive from the ceremony, reception, and tourism expenses of the couples and their guests. Like dropping a rock into a pond, the new wedding-related expenditures will have a ripple effect as these workers and businesses take their new incomes and spend a portion of that money on other businesses’ goods and services.
Many of the jobs that will be created are in categories that could attract Sonoma County residents who are currently unemployed or underemployed (such as food and beverage services, hotels, and entertainment facilities). This is especially true for working mothers, as many of these jobs are likely to allow for flexible scheduling.
Tax revenues generated from the weddings of same-sex couples could also augment social services for lower-income working families; approximately $900,000 to $1.8 million in revenue will go for human, health, police, and fire services.
The report’s major policy recommendation is for Sonoma County to market itself to same-sex households throughout the United States, especially outside of California, as a destination wedding location. The report also notes that the continued ability of same-sex couples to marry provides ongoing, beneficial annual impacts to the Sonoma County economy.
The Economic Impact of Same-Sex Weddings on Sonoma County was authored by Sonoma State University’s Robert Eyler, Ph.D. (Chair of the Department of Economics and Director of the Center for Regional Economic Analysis) and funded by a grant from Horizons Foundation. Founded in 1980, Horizons Foundation was the world’s first community foundation that focused on LGBT issues.
A community foundation rooted in and dedicated to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community, Horizons Foundation exists to mobilize and increase resources for the LGBT movement and organizations that secure the rights, meet the needs, and celebrate the lives of LGBT people; empower individual donors and promote giving as an integral part of a healthy, compassionate community; and steward a permanently endowed fund through which donors can make legacy gifts to ensure our community's capacity to meet the future needs of LGBT people.