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Marriage Equality Boosted Iowa Economy By $12 Million

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IOWA
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WASHINGTON -- The legalization of marriage equality in Iowa created a miniature economic stimulus, according to a new study.

A study by the California-based Williams Institute found that wedding arrangements and tourism by same-sex couples and their wedding guests added between $12 and $13 million to the Iowa economy in 2009 and 2010. The study released Wednesday also reported that the increased spending on weddings likely added between $850,000 and $930,000 in tax revenue.

According to the Iowa data, there were at least 2,099 same-sex weddings in the year following the decision to legalize marriage equality in April 2009. Of these couples, over half came from other states to wed in Iowa. The study estimates that out-of-state couples account for about $2.2 million of the spending.

"The Williams Institute report demonstrates once again that marriage equality has had, and continues to have, only a positive impact on our state," Troy Price, executive director of the pro-marriage equality group One Iowa, said in a statement.

"Our opponents continue to try and take away marriage equality and erase the financial impact that marriage has on our communities and our state," Price continued. "But it begs the question -- at a time when people are looking for work and every Iowan is hoping for stronger economic growth, why would we pass a discriminatory constitutional amendment that would hurt not only loving and committed gay and lesbian couples, but our fragile economy as well?"

The new report was issued at request of Iowa State Sen. Matt McCoy (D), who was formerly on the board of One Iowa.

Same-sex marriage in Iowa was legalized in April 2009, when the state's Supreme Court found a law limiting marriage to a man and a woman to be unconstitutional.

The new law has been a frequent target of conservative groups. In February, the Iowa House of Representatives advanced a bill that would create a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. State Senate Majority Leader Michael Gronstal (D) has said that he will block further debate on the issue.

In response to claims that the ruling would destroy traditional marriage, IowaWatch.org conducted a study in 2010 exploring gay marriages in the state. The study found that same-sex marriages bore many resemblances to heterosexual ones, and that the year after gay marriage was legalized, Iowa had its lowest divorce rates in decades.

Iowa's same-sex marriage rights have also come up in the GOP presidential primary as candidates prepare for the state's caucuses next month. In an interview with Fox News, Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) stated that Iowa citizens did not want same-sex marriage.

"Marriage, historically, for all human history has been between a man and a woman. It hasn't been the same-sex marriage," she said. "And remember that in Iowa, it was judges that made the decision -- not the legislature, which are the people's representatives, and certainly, not the people."

Several candidates, including Bachmann, Texas Gov. Rick Perry and former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-Pa.), have signed a pledge against same-sex marriage written by the Family Leader, a conservative Iowa group that opposes gay marriage.

The Family Leader did not return a request for comment.

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