Is Same-Sex Marriage Good for the Economy?

SCOTUS arguments marriage equality, Supreme Court on gay marriageGay rights groups and allies, along with the backing of two of Indiana’s largest employers, are taking a preemptive strike against the constitutional amendment calling for a same-sex marriage ban expected in the 2014 Indiana Legislature.

Indiana-based Eli Lilly and Cummins Engine took bold steps for equality on August  21, with financial backing of a new coalition called Freedom Indiana.

The Indiana legislature has dissed same-sex marriage for as long as I can remember.  Indiana has a law on the books prohibiting same-sex marriage, but the legislature took it further in 2011 when both the state’s House and Senate voted on a constitutional amendment to exclude same-sex couples from marriage.

Now HJR-6‘s identical twin is rearing its ugly head again as anti-marriage legislators push to approve it in the 2014 legislative session next spring.  If it passes again in the legislature, Indiana citizens will vote on the anti-freedom amendment in the November 2014 election.

Both Lilly and Cummins have a history of opposing a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.  An article from the Columbus, Indiana “Republic,” (Columbus is the hometown of Cummins Engine) quoted a Cummins executive speaking before the legislature in a March 2011 article:

“This resolution sends a powerful message that Indiana is not a place that welcomes people of all backgrounds, and it jeopardizes our ability to be competitive in global markets,” Jill Cook, vice president of human resources … .”

As Mr. Dylan said so long ago, “The times, they are a changin‘.”

Indiana Freedom to Marry reports that a December 2012 poll by the Bowen Center for Public Affairs at Ball State University showed that 54% of Indiana residents opposed changing the state constitution to bar same-sex couples from marrying, while 38% supported the change.

Gay marriage is now legal in thirteen states including California, Connecticut, Delaware, Iowa, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, Rhode Island, Vermont, and Washington, as well as the District of Columbia.  (However, a number of states still have constitutional amendments banning same sex marriages).

Earlier this summer, the Supreme Court weighed in on gay marriage in two rulings:

  • Stating that marriage same-sex couples were entitled to federal benefits, and
  • By not deciding on the California case, allowing same-sex marriages there.

Good for Recruiting and Retaining Employees.

Why would large employers such as Lilly and Cummins jump on this bandwagon in red state Indiana?

While Indiana isn’t truly in the Rust Belt, the state struggles with the loss of major manufacturers. The state needs jobs to retain young people.  Business groups see the larger picture — that recruiting and retaining the younger generation work force must include recognition and respect for those in same-sex unions.  The polls, SCOTUS and what’s happening across the country indicate that the proverbial handwriting may be on the wall.

The conservative Indianapolis Star spoke about the potential fracas in 2014 if an amendment comes to a public vote:

“The proposed constitutional amendment, if it passes the General Assembly, would be sent to voters in November 2014. If they insist on following that path, state lawmakers will set up a highly charged, likely painful fight over not only same-sex marriage but, in the message it sends, social inclusion of gays and lesbians in Indiana as well.

“That sort of divisive battle is the last thing we need in a state that must focus as much energy and cooperation as it can muster on improving our educational system and rebuilding our economy.”

I’ve lived in this state all but six of my fifty-plus years. I want to live in a place where my gay friends are free to experience life as I have, as a married person.

When my husband and I joined in a public celebration in a little country church nearly three decades ago, family and friends stood with us, celebrating and giving us gifts. Because I am married, I get health insurance through my husband’s job allowing me to own my own business.  When my mother’s obituary ran in the newspaper, no one batted an eye that my husband’s name was also listed. Because he is my husband, society considered him a part of my mother’s family.  While the children of a gay couple may get insurance, in many cases the partner does not.

Gay couples in Indiana do not enjoy public validation of their love, or the legal benefits of their union.  This needs to change.  Again, as Mr. Dylan said, “Your old road is rapidly agin’.”

Amy McVay Abbott is an independent journalist from the Midwest, who focuses on health and rehabilitation issues.  She is also the author of two books, both available on, A Piece of Her Mind (2013) and The Luxury of Daydreams (2011).  These books are collections from her popular newspaper column, The Raven Lunatic.  Follow her on Twitter @ravenonhealth or visit her website at amyabbottwrites.

Image via Depositphotos

  • Sheila Luecht

    I support gay marriage. I see no reason not to. I am certain that if a state supported marriage for all, then business would flourish. No one would be offended by not being considered legitimate, when their feelings are legitimate. There are many kinds of people in the world and a global economy helps us see the reality of some of our prejudices more easily. We do business to make money and if people appreciate your stance on gay marriage, it is an encouraging thing, not a discouraging one. Russia is in the news a lot today for their issues with gays. Do we want to do business with a country that is this way, do we want to travel there, do we want to say proudly, “Oh look I just bought this from Russia, you know that country where people are being imprisoned and tortured and killed for being gay?” No, I didn’t think so. We shun places that are diametrically opposed to freedom, we used to do it when it was the USSR too. Can any state afford to be prejudiced in such a way? Just wondering. I don’t think so.

  • Kathy Riordan

    On your question of whether or not it is good for the economy, all other issues aside, I think insurance issues are the most relevant, and insurance companies are probably the most invested either way with potential changes in relationship status legislation down the road. Marriage equality is one type of equality, but should single people then be able to claim equality with married people in terms of benefits? And potentially, could that be a subsequent issue? Should a sexual relationship be a requirement of marriage, or should people be able to “marry” for benefits? I think the insurance issues have to be weighed when considering whether or not it’s good for the economy. The economic issues are completely separate from any other discussion.

  • rebecca pelley

    Yes. Marriage equality is good for the economy.
    Love is love. Live and let live.

    love…and let love.

    Eli Lily also provides grants to Episcopal Churches and sponsorships for new priests. Interesting!

    Good read…I hope Indiana gets it right. .

  • Beverly Uhlmer

    Texas has one of the strongest economies in the nation and a constitutional amendment that restricts marriage to its natural state i.e., one man and one woman. The argument in this article is a red herring to my mind.

  • GabbyAbby

    Of course marriage is good for the economy – no matter who it is that is marrying. It’s a billion dollar industry in this country. As to another commenter’s statement about restricting marriage “to it’s natural state”, I don’t believe marriage IS a natural state. In fact, quite the opposite. (The divorce rate would seem to back me up on that, lol.)

    Physical attraction is natural. Wanting to get together with someone is very natural, meaning in accordance with nature, not something “man-made”. Marriage is, firstly, an institution mandated by religion.The Judeo-Christians support one man and one woman to the exclusion of others, while the Muslim religion permits one man and up to four wives, provided those wives are treated equally and earlier wives give their consent for the subsequent wives.

    Within society, Institutions have all sorts of rules to sustain and control them, and yet these are modified as times change and people see fit to alter the rules. For example, a traditional marriage is intended to be for life, which does not always accord with reality as people change and grow over the years. Parties to the marriage separate and divorce, which is a societal evolution of the institution of marriage.

    Marriage can not, in any way, be considered a “natural state”, only a “preferred state” depending on one’s individual beliefs.

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