While same-sex marriage has been legal for less than a year, some wedding planning businesses in Illinois are already seeing an economic impact.

Crafty Broads, a full-service wedding planning business based in Chicago, has seen a dramatic increase in the number of same-sex weddings.

“A few years ago, around 5 percent of our weddings were same-sex couples – today, that number is probably 50 percent,” Cindy Savage said, co-owner of Crafty Broads. “It has really increased quite a bit.”

Cindy Savage runs Crafty Broads with her wife, Julia Zayas-Melendez. The couple wed in Massachusetts in 2010 before same-sex marriage was legal in Illinois.

“As a part of the gay community, we have always wanted to give back,” Julia said. “We wanted to do more same-sex weddings. We remember what it was like to be planning our own wedding when it wasn’t legal in Illinois. We know the emotional things that go along with that on top of the regular emotions that come with getting married.”

Just ten years ago, Massachusetts was the only state in the union that permitted same-sex couples to marry. Since that time, Americans’ support for Marriage Equality has increased across all age, gender and racial groups.

Increased support for Marriage Equality legislation, along with several court decisions overturning same-sex marriage bans, has brought the total number of states permitting same-sex marriage to 35, with pending court cases in many others that could only increase that number.

Proponents of Marriage Equality have historically focused on the need to bring fairness and equity to committed same-sex couples as the main impetus for same-sex marriage legalization. While that is still the focus for many gay rights organizations, businesses, state governments and local governments are benefitting from the increased economic activity surrounding gay marriages.

A recent study conducted by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law found the state of California stands to receive nearly $400 million in economic activity from same-sex marriage ceremonies in the first three years of legalization. All of that spending is estimated to create more than 2,000 jobs and bring in more than $30 million in tax revenue for state and local governments.

The same study looked at states across the country, and found that in the first three years of legalized gay marriage, Illinois is expected to receive more than $8 million in tax revenue from the more than $100 million in economic activity from same-sex marriages. The total spending puts Illinois in the top ten nationwide in economic impact.

A financial information website, NerdWallet, came to a similar conclusion, predicting Illinois would see more than $100 million in economic benefits from same-sex marriages, with an even larger impact in the future as gay couples, many of whom rushed to the courthouse once able, will now spend more time and money planning larger events.

“I’m really glad that we have been able to see more same-sex couples,” Julia said. “There is sort of a short-hand you have when you have been in it together.”

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States that still haven't legalized same-sex marriage are missing out on a lot of money (Washington Post)