More on the Economic Impact

When we were in Rhinelander one of our hard-working allies and volunteers presented some of his findings on the economic impact on the civil unions and marriage ban. Jim, who is a retired professor from the University of Wisconsin, Eau Claire, and Audrey, the county coordinator of Price County, put together a handout on some of these findings, which include this evidence from Ohio and Colorado:

1993 Cincinnati passed an anti-gay amendment to the city’s charter that was in effect for 11 years. During those years:
  • The Greater Cincinnati Convention Bureau estimates it lost $45 million dollars in revenue.
  • Companies chose not to expand or move into Ohio.
Mary Mason is an executive of one such company, Missing Links System. She was quoted in the Cincinnati Enquirer as stating, “We are not going to any place that discriminates.”

In 1992 Colorado became the first state to legalize discrimination against gay people.

  • Within 6 months, 60 companies cancelled meetings or conventions
  • 110 groups called for boycotts of Colorado products
  • Dozens of cities refused to serve Colorado foods and beverages, including Coors beer
As a retired professor in the UW system, Jim also talked about how the denial of domestic partner health benefits for UW employees already makes it hard to recruit and maintain talented faculty.

This week Madison’s weekly paper, Isthmus, featured a cover article about how bans on stem cell research and civil unions and marriage for gay people may be bad for business.

In the article, Deb Archer, president of the Greater Madison Convention & Visitors Bureau and chair of the Governor’s Council on Tourism worries:

If any law is passed regarding any sector of the population, that’s a concern to us. I certainly hate to impugn Wisconsin’s reputation as a warm, open state. We wouldn’t want them or any other sector of the population to feel unwelcome.
(You might remember Archer positive reaction back in December when Madison was ranked among the top 50 gay cities.)

Robert Chappell, author of Isthmus’s feature tries to quantify the impact the ban could have on our economy:

In Wisconsin in 2004, tourism accounted for $11.8 billion in spending, which translated to $6.7 billion in wages for state citizens and $1.4 billion in government revenue. National statistics show that gay and lesbians account for upwards of 10% of total tourist revenue. A travel boycott of the sort gays and lesbians have organized elsewhere could translate into a hit of $1.2 billion in tourism spending, $670 million in wages and $140 million in state revenue.

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