Texas missing out on millions by banning gay marriage

Couples Cleopatra De Leon, left, and partner, Nicole Dimetman, second from left, and Victor Holmes and partner Mark Phariss, right, talk with the media after as they leave the U.S. Federal Courthouse, Wednesday, Feb. 12, 2014, in San Antonio. The two homosexual couples are challenging Texas' ban on same-sex marriage and have taken their case to federal court. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — The Republican Party of Texas spoke out again gay marriage in June, even endorsing reparative therapy, a practice that tries to turn gay people straight. But a new report out says Texas is missing out when it comes to gay marriage.

The Williams Institute at UCLA says if gay marriage was legal, Texas would see an additional $196 million pumped into state and local economies within three years. They say $116 million of that would come in the first year alone, creating anywhere from 500 to more than 1,500 jobs.

Some of the money would come from Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman. Five years ago they traveled to Massachusetts to get married. If Texas ever legalizes same sex marriage, they will be having a long awaited reception.

GOING IN-DEPTH // LGBT Tourism in Austin

  • Many Austin business leaders say gay and lesbian tourism could mean big money for Austin.
  • Austin’s Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce said attracting same-sex couples would bring in more tourism dollars to the city.
  • They say a typical tourist spends about $1,500 during a trip whereas the average LGBT visitor spends closer to $2,300.

“We had a winery that we were going to have our wedding at and I remember laying down the budget and it would have been about $10,000,” said Dimetman.

A new report suggests legalizing gay marriage would result in 23,000 weddings. Each wedding would generate about $6,000 for an estimated economic impact of nearly $200 million, the report showed.

“Things like florists, wedding venues, a lot of who help low income people,” said Dr. Daniel Hamermesh, an economics professor at the University of Texas at Austin. “Low income people are typically employees of wedding venues and food services.”

In February, a federal judge in San Antonio ruled that the Texas ban on gay marriage unconstitutional. The case will be heard by the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans.

An April poll conducted by Texas Tech University found that 48 percent percent of Texas voters support for same-sex marriage.

In-Depth: Extending benefits to same-sex couples

Some local governments in Central Texas have taken small steps to cater to same-sex couples.

In October of 2012, the Pflugerville Independent School District became the first in the state to offer insurance benefits for domestic and same-sex partners.

Austin ISD followed months later, and the added benefits went into effect last September. At that time the district expected about 200 people to take part in the coverage.

The City of Austin also offers benefits for domestic and same-sex couples. They say about 320 employees take part in that program.

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