RSS
Do gay marriage states have a business advantage?
The draw of federal benefits for all married employees might help these states woo top talent
A gay couple waits to get their marriage certificate at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau on June 27.
A gay couple waits to get their marriage certificate at the Manhattan Marriage Bureau on June 27. Mario Tama/Getty Images
T

he battle over same-sex marriage is often framed in moral or religious terms. State lawmakers, however, might soon be debating its economic consequences as well.

Consider New Jersey, where 4,500 Goldman Sachs employees are based in Jersey City. It's a short train or ferry ride across the Hudson River from lower Manhattan, where 8,000 of the company's employees work.

Edith Hunt, Goldman Sachs' chief diversity officer, tells WNYC (listen below) that in the light of the Supreme Court's DOMA ruling, the company is thinking of moving all of its employees in same-sex relationships from New Jersey to New York so they don't miss out on any tax benefits.

The Garden State is in the middle of a contentious debate over gay marriage, with Gov. Chris Christie — perhaps with an eye on a presidential run in 2016 — saying he will veto any marriage-equality bill that comes to his desk. New Jersey Democrats, meanwhile, are trying to get enough Republican support to override Christie's veto.

In the meantime, New York is touting the fact that it legally recognizes same-sex marriage. Now that DOMA is dead and same-sex couples are entitled to federal benefits, there are major financial advantages for legally married same-sex couples in the Empire State.

"It certainly puts more pressure on New Jersey," Kathy Wylde, head of the nonprofit Partnership for New York City, told WNYC. "In the meantime, we will do everything we can in New York City to take advantage of the fact that we can offer a more attractive deal."

Meanwhile, in California, where the Supreme Court's Prop 8 ruling paved the way for gay marriages to resume, tech companies can strengthen their appeal to young, college-educated workers, who overwhelmingly approve of letting same-sex couples get married.

That could give them an advantage over companies in other tech hubs like Austin and Chicago — both located in states that don't recognize same-sex marriage. Marcus Wohlsen explained in Wired why companies in Texas and Illinois might want to start lobbying their lawmakers to change their tune:

Tech companies are the poster children of the knowledge economy. And the knowledge economy runs on talent. For a company to cut itself off from the widest talent pool possible by not, for example, providing health care benefits to same-sex spouses isn’t just discriminatory. It’s a competitive disadvantage. [Wired]

The list of companies that publicly came out in support of the Supreme Court rulings on DOMA and Proposition 8 includes Apple, Google, eBay, Facebook, Cisco, and more.

Keith Wagstaff is a staff writer at TheWeek.com covering politics and current events. He has previously written for such publications as TIME, Details, VICE, and the Village Voice.

EDITORS' PICKS

THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER

Subscribe to the Week