Marriage, money and mathematics

Of course I want to get married. My girlfriend and I have been together for nearly six years and due to the state of the law, no one really expects us to do anything but perpetually date.

Obviously, if I were a man who had not asked my girlfriend of half-dozen years to marry me, everyone would accuse me of having commitment issues. But I refuse to get married any other way than the way my parents did, legally.

Many gay couples who participate in commitment ceremonies question why Katie and I have not done the same. But without the legal rights that come with marriage, for me, a commitment ceremony would feel like buying a counterfeit concert ticket: The engagement ring is the ticket, but they won’t let me into the show.

So exactly why can’t we get legally married? Of course the religious right trots out the issue each election season as a polarizing and distracting dancing monkey, and they will likely do it again soon. Even if we were to pretend that separation of church and state actually existed in America, we would likely still be in the same spot. But why?

I believe the answer is simple math. The gay community has not made the financial markets realize just how economically powerful we really are.

If the gay marriage issue were explained as an economic issue, rather than a human rights issue, I think we would find more friends than we could ever imagine, most notably, members of the wedding industry.

Allow me to don my math hat and geek-taped glasses so I can demonstrate what I mean. According to a wedding website “The Knot,” the average cost of a wedding is $27,800. Now take the fact that, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 2.4 million couples who marry every year in this country.  That means the wedding industry makes over $66 billion annually on straight couples alone.

The Census Bureau also estimates that there are 707,196 gay couples in the U.S. Let’s assume that half of them would marry (at least once) if it were legal for them to do so.

Based on this, how much more revenue would the wedding industry make from the legalization of gay marriages? The answer is nearly $10 billion, on average, and that does not even take into account the probability that gay weddings would cost way more than $27,800. Any industry would jump on an opportunity to make that kind of new profit.

So why hasn’t the government? After all, the government would be raking in the taxes on the wedding costs plus the actual marriage license fees, etc. And how deep would our new lobby pool be? Florists, jewelers, event facilities, bakers, caterers, designers, stylists, bands, and maybe even churches.

The next time supporters of gay marriage lobby lawmakers to legalize it, they should take along a CPA to explain that getting our country back in the “black” requires every color in the rainbow.


Melissa Carter is former co-host of “The Bert Show” on Q100, where she broke ground as the first out lesbian radio personality on a major station in the city and was one of the few out morning show personalities in the country. Keep up with her at