Same-sex weddings draw thousands

LIHUE — Ever since the Marriage Equality Act went into effect, thousands of same-sex couples have married in Hawaii — and many of them came from out of state to do so.

Rev. Christine Kube of Kauai Wedding Blessings has seen gay couples travel here from the Mainland for their nuptials, and is happy to perform the ceremony.

“I welcome them,” Kube said. “Marriage is marriage, love is love and people being able to get together in a committed relationship is a wonderful thing.”

The majority of same-sex weddings performed in the state since the initiation of the Marriage Equality Act had one or both members listed as non-residents, according to data issued by the State Department of Health.

Between Dec. 2, 2013, and March 2, 2015, 3,457 same-sex marriages were conducted in Hawaii; in 2,283 of those, one or both members were non-residents.

During that same time, 435 same-sex marriages took place on Kauai; in 386 of those couples, one or both were non-residents.

As more gay couples decide to tie the knot in Hawaii, it will mean more revenue for the state, according to research by University of Hawaii at Manoa Economics Professor Sumner La Criox.

“Hawaii’s population of cohabiting same-sex couples, just 3,262 couples reported in the 2010 U.S. Census, amounts to less than 0.5 percent of its 1.4 million population,” Criox wrote in a July 2013 research paper about the economic and governmental impacts of gay marriages in Hawaii.

“If the economic impact of same-sex marriage were to be confined to these couples, it would not be very large from the perspective of Hawaii’s overall economy. Hawaii’s large tourism industry provides, however, a wide channel by which the economic impact of marriage equality could be greatly magnified, as marriage equality will attract U.S. same-sex couples and their guests to Hawaii to marry, honeymoon and participate in wedding celebrations,” La Criox wrote.

That has proven to be the case, as same-sex couples and their guests travel to the Aloha State for weddings. However, that trend may change soon: Gay couples could face legal challenges if the Supreme Court rules against same-sex marriage in the next few weeks, The Associated Press reported last week.

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