Following the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling, gay rights proponents and some economic development officials say states with gay-friendly laws can leverage them for financial gain, while those with prohibitive policies will miss out.So one rationale for moving is clear. States that choose not to withhold a basic civil right from their LGBT populations are, obviously, likely to be friendlier places overall for gays than states that continue to statutorily dehumanize them.
The Supreme Court ruling will force some states to examine whether it’s worth losing out on talent and businesses that are attracted to areas that allow same-sex marriages, said Richard Florida, a professor at the University of Toronto Rotman School of Management. Acceptance of gay communities signals cultural openness and attracts highly educated people and innovators, Florida wrote in his 2002 book “The Rise of the Creative Class.”
“States that recognize the rights of gay and lesbian households, they provide a signal to other people that those are the kind of places that they want to be in,” Florida said. “For many highly skilled, highly educated people, this is a nontrivial factor in decision making.”
There is a money issue, too, both for the states and the individuals involved.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chaffee, the Republican-turned-Democrat whose state opted for marriage equality in May, said in a statement Aug. 7:
Beyond marriage equality honoring critical basic civil rights, throughout Rhode Island the new law will be a boon to Rhode Island’s economy. As our reputation for tolerance and equality spreads beyond our borders and throughout Rhode Island, the long-term benefits of marriage equality will start attracting talented and creative minds from all over the world. New employers will want to put down roots in a state where they can find the brightest who want to work free of the distraction and worry of inequality.As a result of the Court's ruling, same-sex couples who marry in one state get to collect some government benefits no matter where they live: federal student aid and immigrant green-card sponsorships, for instance. But when it comes to other programs, such as Social Security, getting the benefits depends on the law of the state of residence.
That's just one of the consequences of gays still being second-class citizens despite the progress that's been made. Some day, from the redwood forests to the Gulf stream waters, this land will not spur people to move because their civil rights aren't honored right where they already live. That day cannot come too soon.