That's the minimum the Illinois economy could see over three years if same-sex couples are granted marriage rights in the state, according to a new report by the Williams Institute.
The UCLA law school think tank found that the state's economy could see as much as $72 million over three years if Illinois legislators passed a marriage equality bill. Of those dollars, the Williams Institute estimates that $4.5 million to $8 million would come from sales and lodging taxes.
State lawmakers are currently considering the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, introduced by Illinois State Reps. Greg Harris (D-13), Deborah Mell (D-40), and Kelly Cassidy (D-14) last month. Gay rights advocates say they will use the data from the Williams Institute report to press lawmakers to move forward on passing full marriage legislation.
"When the state is struggling to raise every dollar possible, it is good to point to marriage equality as something that costs taxpayers nothing, serves to improve the state's business environment and brings in millions of dollars in revenue," said Randy Hannig, director of public policy for Equality Illinois.
According to the report, there are 23,049 same-sex couples in Illinois, and 3,831 of them are raising children. The report's authors say full marriage equality in the state would benefit not only the couples, but also the 7,662 children being raised in same-sex households. Some of the benefits of full marriage equality outlined in the report include increased support from family, a greater commitment to the relationship, improved emotional health, and less stress due to "social exclusion and stigma."
"This report affirms that there are no reasons in logic or law why thousands of Illinois couples and their children should be deprived of the same legal protections and social and community support that other families enjoy," said Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, after the report's release.