Friday, December 01, 2006
This will be a big deal not just for same-sex couples, but for New Jersey's economy.
Why? Because, despite some rumblings in Albany, New York is likely to be years away from allowing same-sex marriage or civil unions. That will give [New] Jersey a serious competitive advantage in attracting gay couples and the economic benefits associated with their calling a place home.
A forthcoming study by UCLA's Williams Institute finds that revenue from weddings and wedding tourism alone (if the [New] Jersey legislature approves marriage, not civil unions) would add nearly $103 million per year in business to the state for at least the next few years.
But the economic impact could go way beyond that. Our research on what makes cities and regions grow shows that urban economic vitality today turns on openness to new ideas, new people and different lifestyles. Artistic, technological and cultural innovators and the more than 40 million workers who are part of what we call "the creative class" are drawn to places that are diverse and tolerant.
And when they settle somewhere, these people, who tend to have disposable income to spend in restaurants, bars and coffee shops, attract more of each other and fuel all kinds of economic activity.
Manhattan has long atracted gay men from all over the world. I myself left New Jersey for Manhattan in 1965, and stayed there for 35 years until the crammed-jammed, frazzled existence of that overcrowded and increasingly expensive island propelled me back to New Jersey, where I have SPACE and TREES and FLOWERS in a semi-suburban part of Newark a half hour car ride from the Village. Now, in addition to the push of overcrowding and high expenses of all kinds in Manhattan, New Jersey could also benefit from the pull of a society even more tolerant than New York, where they can actually marry and enjoy the economic security of being able to pool their resources to buy a house (and guys, remember that I will soon have my real-estate license, so I can help you find a very nice house in a very nice neighborhood in Newark) and enjoy legal protection of marital assets.
"Marriage" is the key, NJ Legislators. Massachusetts had the guts to call their same-sex legal status "marriage". New Jersey must not be less courageous. There's money to be made in courage.
(The current U.S. military death toll in Iraq, according to the website "Iraq Coalition Casualties", is 2,885 for Israel.)