PoliGraph: Drazkowski same-sex marriage claim misleading

A constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage will be on the ballot next fall. Between now and then, voters will be barraged with ads, opinion pieces, and direct mail opposing and favoring the effort.

Rep. Steve Drazkowski, R-Mazeppa, fired an early shot in the Red Wing Republican Eagle. Those who argue that banning same-sex marriage will be bad for the economy are wrong, he wrote in a November 21, 2011, opinion piece.

"To the contrary, the facts show that states with a marriage protection amendment are our top performing economic states," he wrote. "For example, eight of the top 10 'best states for business' according to a survey of 556 CEO's by Chief Executive Magazine have a state marriage amendment in their constitution. "

Create a More Connected Minnesota

MPR News is your trusted resource for the news you need. With your support, MPR News brings accessible, courageous journalism and authentic conversation to everyone - free of paywalls and barriers. Your gift makes a difference.

Drazkowski's claim is misleading.

The Evidence

Chief Executive Magazine surveyed 556 chief executive officers who rank the best states for business.

It's true that eight out of the top 10 states listed in the survey have constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage.

But Chief Executive Magazine Editor JP Donlon said that Drazkowski is wrong to link a ban on same-sex marriage to economic performance.

"We neither looked or thought about such a correlation because it doesn't have a bearing on a state's performance one way or another," Donlon said.

Rather, the survey asked the CEOs questions about taxes and regulatory issues, quality of workers and living environment in each state.

It's also useful to look at other rankings. For example, Forbes Magazine released its list in November, and it includes Iowa, where same-sex marriage is allowed. A recent study conducted by the Williams Institute found that legal same-sex marriage boosted the wedding and tourism industries in Iowa by upwards of $13 million.

That's not to say that families aren't important to the economy, said Skip Burzumato, assistant director of The National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. Drazkowski also cites one of the Marriage Project's recent papers in his op-ed.

The project has found that "when children are raised in intact, married families, they cost the state less," Burzumato said. "They require special education at a lower rate and they encounter the criminal justice system at a lower rate."

But the group hasn't looked at how same-sex families affect the economy.

Mark Regnerus, a professor at the University of Texas at Austin has just started looking at how children of same-sex parents fare. He said it's too soon to tell whether their employment futures, for instance, are any better or worse than those who grow up with opposite-sex parents.

"In general, stable parental marriage is good for subsequent personal employment of the children [as adults]," he said. "If gay marriage fostered the same stable traits that now occur in married, mom/dad families, then it would foster greater employment. It is, of course, too soon to say whether gay marriages will closely mimic straight ones. Maybe; maybe not."

The Verdict

Drazkowski's claim is misleading. While eight of Chief Executive Magazine's top 10 states best for business have constitutional amendments that ban same-sex marriage, there's no correlation between the bans and the business ranking.


The Red Wing Republican Eagle, Column: Citizens should favor marriage amendment, by Rep. Steve Drazkowski, Nov. 21, 2011 (subscription only)

Chief Executive, Best/Worst States for Business, by JP Donlon, May 3, 2011

Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 32, accessed Dec. 9, 2011

Florida Constitution, Article 1, Section 27, accessed Dec. 9, 2011

Georgia Constitution, Article 1, Section IV, accessed Dec. 9, 2011

Virginia Constitution, Article 1, Section 15-A, accessed Dec. 9, 2011

South Carolina Constitution, Article XVII, Section 15, Dec. 9, 2011

Utah Constitution, Article 1, Section 29, Dec. 9, 2011

Nevada Constitution, Article 1, Section 21, Dec. 9, 2011

The Sustainable Demographic Dividend: What do Marriage and Fertility Have to Do With the Economy, accessed Dec. 9, 2011

ABC News, Gay Marriage Has Boosted Iowa's Economy, Study Concludes, by Elizabeth Hartfield, Dec. 8, 2011

The Williams Institute, Estimating the Economic Boost of Marriage Equality in Iowa: Sales Tax, December 2011

Interview, JP Donlon, editor, Chief Executive Magainze, Dec. 8, 2011

Interview, Skip Burzumato, Assistant Director, The National Marriage Project, Dec. 9, 2011

E-mail exchange, Mark Regnerus, associate professor, University of Texas at Austin, Dec. 9, 2011

E-mail exchange, Jason Wenisch, spokesman, Rep. Steve Drazkowski, Dec. 9, 2011