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Illinois Gay Marriage Would Help Economy: Report

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If Illinois lawmakers decide to legalize same-sex marriage, they will bring more than just marriage equality to the Land of Lincoln, according to a new report by the Williams Institute.

The leading research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy at the UCLA School of Law reports that legalizing gay marriage in Illinois would give the struggling state economy a much-needed boost.

According to their research, over three years, weddings by Illinois residents alone would generate between $39 and $72 millions for the state economy.

"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," Randy Hannig, Director of Public Policy of Equality Illinois, said in a statement.

The economic benefits don't stop there, according to the Williams Institute. These couples would also generate $4.5 to $8 million in new sales and lodging tax revenues. Their estimates already take into account those who have already entered into civil unions and do not include spending by out of state couples.

The report also projected health benefits associated with marriage equality for the estimated 23,049 same-sex couples in Illinois raising approximately 7,662 children.

"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," Bernard Cherkasov, CEO of Equality Illinois, said in a statement.

Last month, openly gay Illinois Reps. Greg Harris, Deb Mell and Kelly Cassidy introduced the Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act in the statehouse. The bill would provide that all state laws "applicable to marriage apply equally to marriages of same-sex and different-sex couples and their children" and granting them "the same benefits, protections, and responsibilities under law," according to the Windy City Times.

The lawmakers hope to pass the law by 2013, and Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said he would do whatever he could to help their cause.

"It's not going to happen quickly, it's not going to happen without a lot of hard work," Rep. Harris predicted.

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