Same-Sex Marriage's Potential Economic Impact - WBAY

Same-Sex Marriage's Potential Economic Impact

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While the issue of legalizing same-sex marriage is a divisive one, there's something many experts can agree on.

One way or another, it will have an economic impact on our area.

According to the 2010 census there are about 9,000 same-sex domestic partnerships in Wisconsin.

In Minnesota, about 10,000. Same sex marriage became legal there in 2013, at that time the Williams Institute estimated wedding and tourism spending would increase $40-million in the first three years of legalization, netting the state more than $3-million in tax revenue.

We don't have estimates for Wisconsin just yet, but some businesses here say the issue could impact their bottom line too. In a way you might not expect.

Karen Sinette is the Human Resource Manager at Elevate 97 in Green Bay.

"Elevate 97 strives to be diverse for our workforce and we continue to look for the best candidate regardless of their background," she says.

To ban or not to ban? It's not a question you'd be asked at a job interview, but a potential employee might ask if gay marriage is legal before accepting a job offer.

"Any person might want to feel comfortable in the area that they are moving to or relocating to or working in, playing in," says Sinette.

Last February, a group of 100 companies including Google, Facebook, Hewlett Packard, Morgan Stanley and Nike filed a legal brief in response to california's prop 8 saying that banning same-sex marriage:

"inflict real and wholly unnecessary injury on business."

And

"Such laws also make it difficult to recruit, hire, and retain some of the top employees who choose not to live in states where they are relegated to second-class-citizen status and prefer instead other states (or countries)-where (this group of companies) may not have offices or open positions-where their fundamental right to marry is recognized."

Same-sex marriage in Wisconsin could be one more recruiting tool for human resource managers.

"I think if we have more open options where we are inviting to all people, it definitely creates a better diverse workforce," says Sinette.

Though marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples here in Wisconsin, we won't truly know what the economic impact will be until the issue is clarified by the courts.

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