The Supreme Court's decision to uphold same sex marriage is a win for both for personal freedom and the economy. This historical decision strengthens American values of liberty and equality, but it may also be a big boost to the American economy.
According to the Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy at the University of California, marriage equality could lead to a $2.6 billion spending increase over the next three years and the creation of 16,000 jobs.
It’s not just love we should be celebrating – but economic growth.
The wedding industry itself was worth $55 billion last year. Better yet, most of the sector is powered by small businesses which are a powerful engine for job creation and economic growth. Tying the knot, also fuels other sectors of the economy. Let's look at five key industries that are set to benefit from the Supreme Court ruling.
1. Wedding Industry
I hate weddings. I’m all for celebrating love, but I’m too old to get drunk and dance all night without serious repercussions. But don’t let me put a damper on a vibrant industry. According to IBIS World, the US Market for wedding services was $55 Billion in 2014. The wedding industries employ 784, 724 people via 522, 847 business. According to my math, that would mean most of those are very small businesses. I know that same-sex couples have been holding wedding ceremonies regardless of the legal status for some time, but I still expect the new legal recognition will mean more couples getting hitched and hosting celebrations. Big win for the wedding services industries and the people it employs.
Weddings are costly and couples' struggle to pay for the big day has spawned an innovative approach. Crowded Wedding is a crowd funding platform for weddings. The simple website allows you to open a fund to help pay for wedding gifts, the ring, a honeymoon or even the event itself.
2. Housing Market
The housing market is fueled by life stage changes, primarily marriage. First time home purchases are the life-blood of the US housing market and getting hitched is usually the driving force behind that financial move. In fact, many housing economists point to the delay and declining rates of heterosexual marriage as one of the main drags on market recovery. On the bright side, the US housing market is starting to show signs of recovery and economists are hoping growth in this market could be a catalyst to get the rest of the market moving upwards. So?? Could an increase in same-sex marriages add steam to this important driver of economic recovery? Letting all couples make it official may mean more couples make the move to buy a home together. This is obviously good for everybody else in the housing food chain; real estate agents, title & deed, construction, housing inspectors, movers, mortgage banks, mortgage insurers, and yes, lawyers.
3. Baby Boom
Though the recent ruling doesn’t make any immediate changes to the status and rights of gay couples to become parents, it’s a strong indicator that the courts will find solutions to this issue soon. This could mean a serious baby boom for same-sex couples. Just like the housing market, same-sex couples may be able to pull up the slack left by heterosexual millennials, who are just not settling down at the rate their parents did. The boom would increase IVF, surrogacy and adoption and help feed the mouths of surrogates, fertility doctors and family law attorneys. But more importantly, it could lead to more stable, loving homes for America’s children and that is good for everybody.
4. Couples & Family Therapy
Gay families, like all families, will go through rough spots. Sometimes couples turn to a trained professional for help meeting interpersonal challenges and to improve the family dynamic. Couple & family Therapy is already a huge industry. So more couples and families means this market is set for growth. Go ahead. Get married. Have kids and go to therapy. It’s good for the economy.
Every rose has its thorn. It is safe to assume that same-sex unions will have their share of troubles. If marriage and family therapists can’t save them, some of these couples will end up joining their heterosexual brothers and sisters in divorce court. While the couples and families endure one of the most difficult periods in their lives, divorce attorneys will be dancing the jig.
It's too early to tell if same-sex divorce rates will be similar. But we can all agree that where there is marriage, there is bound to be some divorce. And where there is divorce, mediators and lawyers will earn a pretty penny.
Free market economists from Adam Smith to Milton Freidman to Sir John Templeton all agree that individual freedom is the indispensable foundation of economic, social and spiritual progress. America’s newest freedom, the freedom to get hitched, may be set to prove just how profitable personal freedom can be. So, congratulations America. You may be on to something with this ‘personal freedom’ stuff. First investment markets started opening up with equity crowdfunding. Now marriage equality has been established.
What’s next on America’s path to individual freedom and economic growth?