On Sept. 8, a federal appeals court will hear a challenge to Nevada's ban on same-sex marriages. Until then, and maybe for sometime after, the States' marriage capital of the world can't marry gay couples. Now, there's a push in Sin City to include gay couples in the festivities — but not for the reason you might think. Human rights? Marriage equality? Nope — according to an Associated Press report, Las Vegas business leaders fear not legalizing gay marriage will hurt their chances of raking in the big bucks.
There are already a wealth of LGBT-friendly attractions in Vegas, and we're not just talking about Elton John. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority has a laundry list of gay nightclubs, bars, and events, including a pool party for "chubby gay men and their admirers" and "the biggest gay dance festival of the summer." And while they can't offer legal marriage licenses, the city has an abundance of non-binding commitment ceremony services similar to the quickie weddings Vegas is famous for.
This round-up of events launched alongside the Convention and Visitors Authority's first national gay-centric ad this April. The broadcast spot, which is part of the "what happens here, stays here" campaign, touts the city's laissez-faire attitude to same-sex couples, albeit in a way that makes them seem a little closeted. Basically, the "anything goes" attitude long-held by the city extends to gay couples. But, mostly, gay couples and their money.
According to a report by the Williams Institute, if gay marriage were legalized in Nevada, the state would see a $23 million to $52 million dollar boost to the economy in the first three years. You'd better believe that business leaders are hungry for that money, and they're afraid that the ban will send gay couples to other states for their festivities.
Michael Weaver, senior vice president of marketing for Wynn Resorts, told the Associated Press:
We have reached a point in the state of Nevada where our current laws governing gay and lesbian marriage have made our most vital industry, tourism, uncompetitive. Nevada resorts, restaurants, caterers, florists, photographers and musicians all need to be allowed to compete with the 19 other states that allow the freedom to marry.
When gay marriage was legalized in New York, wedding-related expenses for gay couples added a whopping $259 million in the first year, which Vegas business owners are lusting over. OK, so maybe not the most warm-and-fuzzy reason for extending human rights to gay couples, but hey, it pays to have friends in high places, right?