Commentary

Cash Registers Ring In Wake Of DOMA Decision

Even as Bert and Erniecontroversially cuddle in front of a television image of the U.S. Supreme Court on this week’s New Yorker cover, marketers are hearing the resounding tintinnabulation of cash registers ringing as wedding bells chime after the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was struck down last week.

“Weddings are the most important celebration most people do in their lives, so it will definitely impact business,” event planner David Monntells NBC News’ Martha C. White. “The moment it changed in New York State, we were inundated with calls.”

And Bernadette Coveney Smith, owner of LGBT wedding-planning company 14 Stories, tells White that her business “doubled after same-sex marriage was legalized in New York in 2011.”

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Indeed, Goldman Sachs “tweeted a message that gay marriage would actually help build a stronger economy complete with a picture of a rainbow flag next to an American flag,” Laura Stampler reports in Business Insider in a story that features several brands’ positive reactions to the news.

“Even though brands risk extreme negative reactions from potential customers for messages about LGBT rights, that doesn’t stop major corporations from flying their rainbow flags high,” Stampler writes. Orbitz, the Gap, American Apparel and Grey Poupon are among those celebrating the decision.

In a related story, Marketing Daily’s Karl Greenberg reports today on a new study from Experian Marketing Services that finds the number of Americans identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered are younger, more tech-savvy, create more affluent households and spend more money than other Americans.

According to a yearly wedding study by theknot.com, America’s most-trafficked wedding website, “same-sex couples have slightly smaller nuptials than heterosexual couples, but they spend more money per guest, more money overall, and have a higher household income,” Bloomberg Businessweek’s Jessica Grose reports in a story about the $52 billion wedding industry’s forthcoming good fortune. 

“Even the Marriott hotel chain, which is Mormon-controlled, is launching an LGBT marketing campaign in the DOMA ruling’s wake, and now a section of its website is devoted to same-sex weddings and civil ceremonies,” Grose observes.

“Within the first year of enacting the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, New York City’s economy got a $259 million boost -- well on its way to surpassing the $400 million the State’s Senate Independent Democratic Conference had projected over the first three years combined,” Diane Bullock’s Minyanville.com story running on MSN Money reports. It points out that tax revenue garnered from spending in hotels, restaurants, catering halls, bridal boutiques, beauty salons and suppliers, caterers and the like made enough money to pay the city’s parks and recreation budget for the year.

Neal Broverman, editor in chief of Out Traveler magazine, tells the New York Times’ Emily Brennan that the decision “effectively legalizing same-sex marriage in California will also attract gay travelers who want to feel affirmed in spending money in a state where their rights are recognized, regardless of their marital intentions.”

According to Broverman, “The LGBT community is very cognizant of whether a place is friendly to them, in a legal and a cultural way.” (Maybe we’re missing something but didn’t California’s legislature pass Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage?)

Sally Fedell, owner of The Falls Wedding Chapel in Niagara Falls, N.Y., tells the AP that she expects the number of gay couples from conservative states who have been traveling to her chapel to accelerate. 

“They always say, ‘My state will be the last state to legalize it,’” Fedell says. “So I do think we’re going to feel an impact and we’re trying to get the word out there and let couples know that we’re open and affirming for gay marriage.”

Beyond wedding tourism, Minyanville’s Bullock last April looked at the positive impact the decision would have on minivan and SUV manufacturers, real estate and home improvement, divorce lawyers and “everybody else” as represented by the 278 businesses such as Apple, Nike, Starbucks Citigroup and Johnson & Johnson who signed a friend-of-the-court brief against DOMA.

A lesbian couple in San Francisco who are also wedding photographers, Danielle Fernandez and Janeen Singer, found business booming at San Francisco City Hall this weekend as their business was instantly transformed from one that had been primarily “pretty hetero,” Chris Megerian reports in the Los Angeles Times.

“People are glowing, Fernandez tells Megerian. “It makes for good photographs.”

And healthy bottom lines.

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