Hawaii considers same-sex marriage

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July 30, 2013


By Jennifer Springer

HONOLULU, Hawaii: A new University of Hawaii study estimates an additional $217 million in visitor spending over the next three years if Hawaii legalizes same-sex marriage.[1][2][3] The analysis comes from the University of Hawaii's Economic Research Organization.[1]

"The basic result of the study is that there's a lot of money for Hawaii in the same-sex marriage industry. We should expect that there would be quite a few couples that would come to Hawaii to marry and to honeymoon, and our estimate is that they would spend over a three year period $217 million," said Professor La Croix of the University of Hawaii.[1][3] According to the study, most of the boost would come from visitor arrivals and spending, but also includes state and county general excise tax revenue.[1]

The authors of the study also warn that the state stands to lose a lot of money if it does not act on marriage equality.[2] It includes "substantial federal tax savings" in health insurance and federal spousal benefits such as Social Security.[2] "Without access to marriage in Hawaii, local same-sex couples can only gain access to federal marriage rights by traveling to the U.S. mainland to marry. This reduces same-sex couple spending in Hawaii, harms the Hawaii wedding industry, and raises the cost to many Hawaii same-sex couples of becoming married."[2]

Senator Sam Slom disagrees the tourism industry will take a hit without same-sex marriage.[1] "What people are really saying in our community is, ‘Do we want an unlimited visitor industry or should we be talking about capping the number of people that we can host and host well here and get along with local peoples?'" Slom said.

Slom, who opposes calls to convene a special session on the issue of same-sex marriage, says generating money shouldn't be the reason to pass legislation. "My bottom line is while we're always concerned about money, we should be concerned about doing things because they're right or they're wrong and I'm old school -- I believe the people should have the right to determine. So let's have another vote, a constitutional amendment, and let's say once and for all without legislative interference what do people believe in this state? Do they want traditional marriage? Do they want same-sex marriage? To me I don't care, I want more transparency and I want the people to be involved," explained Slom.[1]

Thirteen U.S. states and the District of Columbia recognize gay marriage. Among them, Delaware, Minnesota and Rhode Island legalized same-sex marriage in 2013.[4] The Freedom to Marry advocacy group is targeting Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Oregon to pass same-sex legalization next.[4] The group has also said it is targeting at least six more states to pass same-sex marriage in 2015 and 2016 that may include Arizona, Colorado, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia.[5]

Hawaii currently allows civil unions for same-sex couples.[6]

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