Banning Same Sex Marriages Hurts our Workforce and Economy

by Marc Herstand, MSW, CISW

Recently one of our most thoughtful and intelligent board members who is also one of our best leaders on the board informed me that she and her partner were moving to Delaware, partially because Delaware would allow them to get married while Wisconsin would not.   At the same time the Wisconsin State Journal published a front page article about same sex couples waiting on the Supreme Court decision and hoping it might overturn Wisconsin constitutional amendment and allow them to marry.  The same article mentioned a couple who might consider moving out of Wisconsin in the future if this change did not occur.

Undoubtedly Wisconsin’s constitutional amendment banning same sex marriage and civil unions has led and will continue to lead to some extremely intelligent and talented residents leaving our state.  It is also likely it has and will continue to be a negative factor in our state’s employers’ ability to attract the largest and most talented pool of candidates for positions.

Aside from the ethical and social justice arguments that we often make as social workers on policy issues, it is clear this issue also has had and will have a negative impact on the state’s economy. Those states that allow same sex marriage not only may be attracting intelligent, creative and talented LGBTQ residents to their state, but they also will benefit from an increase in weddings.   Those businesses that support weddings-florist shops, catering companies, department and specialty stores where couples “register” and other places would see a boom in business.   This could lead to increased jobs in their state.  At a time that our state’s economy is close to the bottom in the nation, wouldn’t we want to do anything possible to help improve it? 

If as expected the Supreme Court does not make same sex marriage legal throughout the United States, it is time for our state to begin the process of rescinding our constitutional amendment on same sex couples.  It is a moral, ethical, social justice and economic issue for our state.