NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. – On March 1, Maryland was the eighth state (in addition to Washington D.C.) to legalize same sex marriage. This decision was not without controversy, with advocacy groups pledging to get enough signatures to get a referendum and put it on the ballot to be voted on. In states like Maryland, proponents of gay marriage are seeing some unexpected supporters: Businesses.
It has been suggested that allowing gays to marry, it will help the economy for several reasons. Eight years after same sex marriage was legalized in Massachusetts, the state saw $111 million added to their economy. The Williams Institute, a UCLA advocacy group that researches laws having to do with gender identity and sexual orientation, reports that the increase in spending is because with gays and lesbians being married, they feel comfortable enough to invest in things such as homes. The other reason that gay marriage will help the economy is because of the amount of money spent for the wedding itself. There are benefits to businesses going after a new demographic. For example, the average homosexual couples has almost two times the income than heterosexual couples do. This gives businesses more opportunities to get money out of soon to be married couples.
Businesses such as gay chapels don’t have to reinvent their entire business. Instead what they are doing is opening their doors to same sex couples, and labeling them as being for marriage equality. Since venues don’t have to invest money in specialized equipment for same sex couples the transition is as easy as welcoming a new demographic. For example, The Wedding Chapel in Iowa boasts that they accept same sex couples in their chapel. The amenities they provide, which include a band, are not specialized to homosexual couples and are sought by just about any type of couple looking to get married.
Some businesses in the wedding industry are putting their money into catering their new influx of customers. Wedding ring companies are catering to same sex couples by designing wedding rings to their liking. Love and Pride, a site dedicated to providing resources to same sex couples, says that there are some subtle differences that same sex couples seek for their rings. Some of these differences include symbols on the ring that indicate that their spouse is the same sex as them and often pride symbols of their sexuality. Businesses such as Unusual Wedding Rings, are jumping on the bandwagon providing a “broad selection of rings for same-sex couples” and selling unconventional ring styles such as a diamond ring for men.
Social media is also being utilized to cater to same sex marriage. Sites such as Iowa’s Gay Wedding Planner aggregates resources for same sex couples to use for their weddings. The website says that they are a “resource to connect gay-friendly Iowa businesses with couples planning a wedding in Iowa.” These sites are often as expansive as (if not more than) same sex online wedding planners, guiding them to such vendors as florists and bakers in their area. With the increase of states legalizing gay marriage, sites such as Gay Weddings (which also has a marketplace) and Ultimate Gay Weddings are flooding the top of Google searches.
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