WI could use some California style

June in Wisconsin was a momentous month of 100-year floods, dammed lakes disappearing, and devastation to corn, cherry, and many other crops.

June in California was joyous for same-sex couples, who for the past two weeks have been able to be legally married.

Why am I linking these events? How does $680 million sound?

That’s the estimated amount of money that California can be expected to rake in within the next 3 years if their law permitting gay marriage withstands a referendum challenge in November. That much (or more, since estimates are usually conservative) in wedding-related revenue from licenses, hotels, venues, caterers, florists, clothiers, hairdressers, photographers, musicians, and general tourism is expected to give a nice boost to California’s limp economy.

True, if our state was in Cali’s position we’d have to scale down any such estimate because California is much bigger than Wisconsin in both area and population. Seeing as one-tenth of the estimated amount would be $68 million, I think we’d be willing to settle for that. It could go a long way toward restoring Lake Delton, and extra tourism would help replace some of that revenue that was lost in June. Sing it with me: What the Dells needs now is love, gay love!

Also, allowing same-sex marriage would be a way to address the brain drain that has our state leaders concerned. Our bright young people who grow up and/or attend college here tend to leave the state almost as soon as the ink on their diplomas is dry. Sure, one reason is our often crap-tacular weather. Another may be the fact that some of the biggest-employing companies are located elsewhere. But there’s also the intangible factor of the attitude or vibe of particular places. Surveys consistently show that the more open and diverse and welcoming a place is, the more that creative young people want to live there. Although Wisconsin has great arts and cultural activities, we have a Rust Belt image that is hardly cutting edge.

Wisconsin could start to change that by becoming the gay marriage Mecca of the Midwest. Milwaukee and Madison already have vibrant gay and lesbian communities, and there are larger, more affluent ones just a few hour’s drive from our borders in neighboring Chicago and the Twin Cities. (Heck, folks in northern Illinois already use Wisconsin as a less-expensive, less-congested playground, so why not offer them something they REALLY can’t get at home?)

It might seem cynical to think so mercenarily about the institution of marriage, but like other changes to the institution, heterosexuals have already paved the way and made marriage a multi-billion-dollar-a-year industry by consistently spending more than one year’s salary on a one-day event. And, as anyone working in the wedding industry could tell you, gay people’s money is as green as anybody else’s. In fact, shortly after the California Supreme Court’s decision, Gov. Schwarzenegger said, “I hope that California’s economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married.”

When money talks, bullshit walks, and anti-marriage constitutional amendments are about as stinky a pile of bs as you can get. It’s time for our state’s leaders to wake up, stop acting like a bunch of Puritans and realize that there’s a pile of gay and gay-friendly money to be made. If they resist this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to jump-start the state economy and hold onto young talent, both will drain away faster than Lake Delton.

The Gay Dollar

With sadness I agree the way in which gays will be treated as equals is due to their dollar.

It's with sadness because it isn't the principle of the matter that will bring Wisconsin (and the nation) out of this illogical and immoral prejudice. But whatever it takes, right? So long as it gets done.

Kathy, very good points and very well articulated!