Same-sex marriage bill clears Senate; supporters say it will bring in $94 million to Maryland economy

By Megan Poinski

same-sex marriage senate vote

Senate tally board on same-sex marriage.

The Maryland Senate passed a bill allowing same-sex marriage with a 25-21 vote Thursday night, which supporters said would be a $94 million boon to the Maryland economy and bring in $3.2 million in state taxes.

“I am proud to be a member of this body, but I have never been prouder than I am tonight,” Sen. Jamie Raskin, a Montgomery County Democrat and floor leader of the bill, said right before the vote was taken. “It is a fundamental wrong to deny our citizens a fundamental right.”

Although same-sex marriage is usually considered a social, political and religious issue, Anne Arundel County Republican Sen. Edward Reilly brought up the dollars and cents of the issue Thursday morning. He said that the fiscal note didn’t portray the real impact the bill will have on county and local governments, as well as small businesses.

In the afternoon away from the Senate floor, Raskin did some research.

He found a 2007 report from the Williams Institute, part of the University of California, Los Angeles’ law school. The Williams Institute focuses on law and public policy related to sexual orientation , and has done analysis of the impact on changes to marriage laws in different states.

The Maryland analysis states that there will be a net $3.2 million annual increase in state revenues. According to the study, Marylanders and those traveling to the state to get married would spend about $94 million a year on wedding-related expenses. The study concluded that, considering both in-state and out-of-state couples getting married in Maryland, the state would gain about $14 million in tax revenues over three years — a figure that might be higher, since the study was done before sales tax increased to 6% in 2007. Additionally, Raskin said, the most recent census states that there are more than 15,000 same-sex couples living together in the state, more than the 10,000 referenced in the bill’s fiscal note.

As far as revenues the state would lose by allowing same-sex couples to marry — applying spousal benefits to different taxes and fees in the state — Raskin said that Maryland has already made policy changes that have the same effect.

“In a sense, you could say we’ve already got the cost of same-sex marriage without having any of the fiscal benefits,” Raskin said.

Reilly disagreed with Raskin’s view. He said that he spoke with an insurance agent in Anne Arundel County, and they did some quick math. He estimated that small businesses would be spending an additional $15 million on insurance benefits for same-sex spouses.

“This bill will foist upon the businesses we rely on to create jobs and revenues an unfunded mandate,” Reilly said.

He recommended more financial analysis be done on the issue before passing the bill.

Raskin said he — and the 24 senators who voted with them — would most likely not be swayed if the analysis said Maryland would lose $3.2 million annually.

“We don’t want to put a price tag on peoples’ freedom, peoples’ equality,” Raskin said. “We don’t want to say that anyone’s rights are too expensive.”

The bill now goes to the House of Delegates, which begins considering it at a Judiciary Committee hearing Friday afternoon. Gov. Martin O’Malley has said he will sign legislation establishing same-sex marriage.

About The Author

Len Lazarick

Len Lazarick was the founding editor and publisher of and is currently the president of its nonprofit corporation and chairman of its board He was formerly the State House bureau chief of the daily Baltimore Examiner from its start in April 2006 to its demise in February 2009. He was a copy editor on the national desk of the Washington Post for eight years before that, and has spent decades covering Maryland politics and government.


  1. Elihu Eli El

    SHARE (Everyone needs to know this): States Matrimony Act of 2011

    Hello Friends, Family, and Neighbors,

    Holy Matrimony equals Marriage
    matrimony does not equal Marriage
    The state can not determine Holy Matrimony…only The Church can do that..There is a separation between Church and State; or did you forget. If it was about protecting the fundamental right of two same-sex persons to wed, then lawmakers would have simply changed the word from “marriage” to “matrimony”. No…Federal lobbyists who are also Maryland State Delegates are trying to make a name for themselves by showing that they are powerful enough to beat religious institutions, redefine morality, and create a new set of their lobbyists formed code of ethics. It’s about a political power stronghold by federal lobbyist to control States Rights over acting in The People’s best interests.

    Federal lobbyist brandishing political might over us
    A simple common sense solution

    202-225-5341: Call and tell President Obama’s right-hand man {Congressman Chris Van Hollen}…”Lobbyists should not profit from our turmoil. Lobbyists continue to profit from the problem. Why would they want to solve our problems. Stop this form of abuse. Stop letting your Federal lobbyists become state lawmakers. State lawmakers should be representing the poor and elderly, not groups taking our money and robbing us blind. Stop letting your Federal lobbyists become dictators over States Rights”

    You can follow the money for yourself. It is apparent that our Healthcare system is broken. In one case, a lobbyists is profiting from that broken Healthcare system. By letting Van Hollen know the real deal, our President can’t say that he didn’t know that this was not occurring on his watch:

    Warm Regards,

  2. Mocohcn

    “Abigail Adams” and “Giggles1” – What can you people be thinking? Looking for reasons to restrict peoples’ freedoms and rights? Or is it money, money, money? Senator Raskin said it all: “We don’t want to put a price tag on peoples’ freedom, peoples’ equality, we don’t want to say that anyone’s rights are too expensive.” As Americans, you/we enjoy more freedoms and rights than most people. Which of those would you give up to save money?

    Read more:
    Under Creative Commons License: Attribution

  3. Abigail Adams

    So it’s a definite, written in stone, 3.2 million in the state coffers from gay marriage? Will the supporters of this bill take personal financial responsibility if their estimates don’t materialize? Annapolis is in the bait and switch mode again. How many of their “pie in the sky” predictions have paid off? Remember electricity de-regulation? Remember the protracted fight over “the evils of gambling” while 3 border states built Vegas styled casinos? Remember the special session 25% hike in the sales tax that would solve all our money problems? Annapolis thrives on attention deficit voters to keep supporting them. Enjoy the ride fellows 2012 is coming!

  4. Giggles1

    Why would our government WASTE time and MONEY on this kind of crap… I’m sure there time and money could be better spent on more important things as BUDGET and the crime of the GOVERNMENT.


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