Economy loses $550 million due to Australia's gay marriage fail

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Gay couples wait in lineto apply for a marriage license in Salt Lake City
Tarah Camarillo (L-R), her partner Nicole Barnes, Leighton Hilburn and his partner Preston Perry wait in line with hundreds of other people to apply for a marriage license at the Salt Lake County Clerks office in Salt Lake City, Utah, December 23, 2013. Reuters/Jim Urquhart

An increasing number of gay Australians are heading to New Zealand to tie the knot. Economists note that it is the Down Under’s loss, since the economy is missing out on the business that will be generated by same-sex weddings.

In a 2015 report, ANZ Bank estimated that gay marriage can contribute $550 million to the economy within one year of legislation. Fifty eight percent of weddings held in New Zealand last year involved same-sex couples from Australia.

Cherelle Murphy, co-author of the report and senior economist at ANZ, said the country may also miss out on wedding-related consumption to overseas destinations. Several major economies such as the United States, the United Kingdom, France and Canada have legalised the gay unions. New Zealand has seen more than 3,000 same-sex couples getting married since marriage equality was enshrined in law.

In Australia, major parties are yet to reach agreement on how to vote on the issue. Labor Party shows strong support while Conservative MPs urges Aussie Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to defy a free vote in Parliament.

Murphy explained that the loss was not just about the wedding itself, but also with the additional services that they generate, Sydney Morning Herald reports. Examples of these are divorce lawyers and honeymoon travel.

According to Quartz Media, support for marriage equality stands at a record two-thirds of the Australian population. Tiernan Brady, the director of the Equality Campaign in Australia, puts the blame on politics, saying it is failing to reflect the values of the Australian people.

Alex Greenwich, co-chair of Australians for Marriage Equality, said their campaign was growing stronger than ever. “We’re in new territory on this journey and politicians can no longer avoid the momentum,” Greenwich said.

Australia companies, including Qantas and Commonwealth Bank of Australia, agree that marriage equality makes good business sense. “Equality and diversity are strategic business issues,” the companies said in a letter to the prime minister.

Even global companies have expressed their support for marriage equality in Australia. These include Procter & Gamble, GE, Google, eBay and American Express.

Airbnb started a campaign which it called “Until we all belong.” It urges people who support marriage equality to wear an incomplete ring that symbolises the “gap in marriage equality that we need to close.”  In a statement, CEO Brian Chesky said he hoped the initiative would make marriage equality a priority in the country’s political agenda.

Read more: Businesses that hire foreign workers to pay $1.2 billion tax; Australia claims it's not targeting India

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