Badgett Plays Role in Golden State Decision on Nuptials
Professor Lee Badgett (economics and public policy), director of the Center for Public Policy and Administration and an expert on the economic characteristics of same-sex couples, played a pivotal role in the California court's decision to allow same-sex marriage. Not only did she serve as an expert witness in the case, she also co-authored an amicus brief in support of gay marriage that was used numerous times in the California Supreme Court chief justice's oral arguments on the economic characteristics of same-sex couples.
"The amicus brief made the point that same-sex couples are similarly situated financially to other couples," Badgett says. "When you compare same-sex couples with kids to different-sex married couples with kids, they look very similar in financial terms and in terms of having a stay-at-home parent. The court's decision picked up on this general point, noting that same-sex couples with kids have the same need for access to marriage that different-sex couples with kids would have."
California—the second state to overturn a ban on same-sex marriage—could capitalize on Massachusetts' mistakes, according to Badgett. She says California could experience an interstate wedding industry boom if it welcomes same-sex couples from across the country. Badgett sees something similar to when San Francisco briefly allowed same-sex marriages.
"Four years ago, when same-sex couples were married in San Francisco, couples from 46 different states flew to San Francisco to get married,"' says Badgett. "California is now in a position to get a state economic boost for the exact same thing."
Badgett thinks Massachusetts has overlooked a potentially viable economic opportunity by not recognizing many out-of-state couples seeking to marry here. The Bay State only permits gay marriages for residents and residents of states where gay marriage is also allowed. "Massachusetts could have had that boost from out-of-town couples, but now that we have laws stating that if they are married here, they won't necessarily be recognized in their home states," Badgett says. "Simply put, we're not letting same-sex couples marry from out of state."
After an initial wedding boom, Badgett says California will likely return to a state of normalcy. "My prediction is that, if everything comes according to plan, I think that things will get back to normal very quickly," Badgett says. "In California, people will begin to realize that the sky will not fall and that there will be couples that are very ecstatic about this decision."
Overall, Badgett says, Thursday's ruling is an important milestone for same-sex marriage. "It's another indication that the world is changing and that the world is recognizing the need for equality," Badgett says. "The other important thing is that it shows that domestic partnership is not equivalent to marriage."
May 19, 2008
Adapted from an article in the Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton) by Andrew Horton, staff writer, that appeared on 5/16/2008.