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Back to Section One | Back to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 10, 2012 - Volume 40 Issue 06
Marriage equality in NJ would have a big effect on couples, children
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Marriage equality in NJ would have a big effect on couples, children

by Shaun Knittel - SGN Associate Editor

As the New Jersey legislature approaches a vote on the legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, the Williams Institute, a leading research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy, released statistics and references to illustrate the potential impacts of the bill.

According to the 2010 Census, there are an estimated 16,875 same-sex couples in New Jersey, of whom 4,447 identify as spouses. In addition, more than 3,300 of the same-sex couples in New Jersey are raising children - nearly 6,650 children in total. Nationally, an estimated 110,000 same-sex couples are raising children, more than 200,000 in total.

Also in the statistics released this week, approximately 50,000 same-sex couples have entered into legal marriages in the United States.

Williams Institute officials found that allowing same-sex couples to marry will have positive effects on the New Jersey economy and tax revenues. Over three years, weddings by resident New Jersey couples alone will generate between $48 million and $119 million for the state economy, generating over $3 million to $8 million in new tax revenues. These estimates do not include spending by out-of-state couples.

Also, same-sex couples prefer marriage to civil unions or registered domestic partnerships, even when those non-marriage statuses extend all or almost all of the rights and obligations of marriage under state law, reports Williams Institute. An average of 30% of same-sex couples married in the first year that their state allowed them to marry, while only 18% entered into a civil union or broad domestic partnership in the first year their states offered these statuses.

The opportunity to marry also has positive health consequences for same-sex couples:

o Same-sex couples gain social support from their families and a greater level of commitment to each other when they can marry.

o Although lesser forms of legal recognition for one's same-sex relationship had positive health effects for the Gay men studied, being legally married boosted emotional health to a greater extent than being in a legally recognized domestic partnership or civil union.

o The stress that comes from social exclusion and stigma can lead to adverse health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicide attempts.

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. For more information, go to http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu.

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