A cost-conscious state should think about the budget implications of the marriage amendment

Jack Reuler
Jack Reuler
Photo courtesy of Mixed Blood Theater

By Jack Reuler

Jack Reuler is artistic director of Mixed Blood Theatre Company in Minneapolis.

I am a straight single male who has never been married. I am also the head of a Minnesota nonprofit arts organization. While I could argue vociferously about the non-monetary value of the arts to the citizenry of the state, we are often asked (usually by elected officials) to make a case justifying our existence based on the economic engine that the arts provide to the financial health of Minnesota. It is an impressive set of statistics that helps transform something that seems soft into something more concrete.

Minnesota Citizens for the Arts reports that the arts boasted a $250 million yearly impact until the voters in 2008 decided 3-2 to approve a constitutional amendment that increased sales tax for the arts, water conservation and the environment, pumping $22 million more into the annual Minnesota economy from the Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund (plus dollars leveraged).

Logic dictates that we apply the same standard to another attempt to amend the Constitution.

State statistics show that in 2011 there were 28,111 weddings. Industry associations and magazines suggest that each wedding generates an average $35,000 in spending. Stats also show that half of marriages end in divorce, and the average divorce also costs $35,000 (for lawyers, mediators, psychologists, accountants, etc.).

Ten percent of the population self-identifies as LGBT. If same-sex marriage were legal, and if there were 10 percent more weddings per year, and if half of them, sadly, followed the rest of the population into divorce, the economy of Minnesota would receive an additional $147 million every year. That is only potential revenue, because same-sex marriage will still be against state law, even if the amendment fails; but if the amendment passes, the potential revenue will be lost indefinitely.

The resulting conclusion for the fiscal conservative with an ownership of fiduciary responsibility: Vote no on the marriage amendment.

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