Let’s legalize gay marriage and get the jump on the competition
The Coalition for the Protection of Marriage is not looking out for Nevada’s
Instead of making gay marriages unconstitutional, we should legalize them.
Legalizing gay marriage would boost tourism. It would be good for the wedding chapel industry. It would keep Nevada on the map as a beacon of libertarian, live-and-let-live freedoms.
Nevada has a time honored tradition of placing our bets ahead of the curve
and doing business in areas no other state has the foresight, or courage, to
engage in. For 80 years Nevada has been a Mecca for adults seeking what
they couldn’t get elsewhere – a night of gambling, a stigma-free divorce, an
easy wedding. We’ve steadfastly held to our belief in America’s right to
adult entertainment and services. We’ve cheerfully offered these products,
defying the priggish attitudes of the rest of the nation.
Now we once again have the opportunity to provide a valuable service to a
population that truly needs it. And it is no small population!
Hawaiian economists estimate that 86,000 couples will travel to the first state to legalize gay marriage, in the first five years after that decision.
This doesn’t even count bridesmaids, best men and great-aunts. That adds up to a lot of new tourists!
Nevada is uniquely situated to accommodate this “Bridalwave.” We already have the infrastructure. The wedding chapels. The nightlife. The thousands of
hotel rooms. The cheap airfares. The banquet rooms. The Elvis impersonators.
As the Commission on Tourism constantly reminds us, Nevada has something for everyone. I’m sure we can creatively and profitably offer both sides of Nevada to the newlyweds. The rustic cowboy types may want to stay at a dude ranch, even marry on horseback. The flashy urbanites will stick to the bright lights and gaming. The skiers can come in winter. Golfers, boaters, ghost town aficionados, come on down!
Las Vegas, of course, will have special appeal. What queen – male or female – could resist marrying in the camp capital of the world?
Some will go for the whole nine yards – gowns, flowers, rehearsal dinners,
receptions, dance bands, hundreds of guests. Others may do what my husband and I did, elope and engage the local Justice of the Peace to do the honors in a beautiful field at sunrise.
A study cited in the Southern California Law Review estimates that the first
state to legalize gay marriage will generate $4.3 billion in tourism, $3.4 billion in the first five years, the rest over 20 years. The estimate rests
on three assumptions: 1) Three percent of Americans are gay 2) Gay people
would marry at one-third the rate of the general population and 3) Gay
couples would spend an average of $6,000 on their weddings.
In Las Vegas last year the average visitor spent $745 over three days on
food, lodging, entertainment and shopping. Those that gambled spent $469
more. People coming here to get married spent even more, ranging from $150 for a quickie wedding to $1,000 for the Bellagio’s deluxe wedding packet.
I see definite growth possibilities here. So c’mon! Let’s not get hung up on
petty differences among us. Let’s leave bigotry in the dust of the last
millennium and accept, nay, embrace our differences. And let’s put Nevada in the vanguard of a 21st century growth industry that will bring happiness to many, many people.