Same-Sex Marriage Brings Economic Boost - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Same-Sex Marriage Brings Economic Boost

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GEORGETOWN, Del. - In a small room on the second floor of the Sussex County government building, sits a wedding pulpit, full of flowers. On Monday a pair of couples held hands, awaiting their opportunity to say "I do." And then the first couple took the stage. 

"There's no relationship that's stronger, yet more delicate than the bonds of marriage," said Clerk of the Peace John Brady as the couple watched on. 

These are words Brady has become all too comfortable with. He has read them aloud literally hundreds of times. And now a full year after same-sex marriage has been legalized, Brady tells WBOC that more are getting married than ever before. In fact, he told WBOC that in Fiscal Year 2014, he officiated 414 weddings himself. 

In Fiscal Year 2013, the state issued 1,369 marriage licenses. In 2014, that number jumped by more than 740 couples to 2,110. Brady said that this increase was due entirely to the addition of same-sex marriages. A large portion of these marriages, 590 of them, were in between out-of-state same-sex couples.

Brady names some of the states, he's seen people visiting from to tie the knot. 

"Florida, South Carolina, North Carolina, Ohio," he said. "I married a couple from Texas." 

He added that there were also a plethora of people tying the knot from nearby states like Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. Couples requesting marriages from these areas have reduced greatly since it became legal there. However, in states like North and South Carolina, Virginia, and West Virginia same-sex marriage is not legal, and so people continue to flock to Delaware. 

Brady said that this influx of same-sex marriages has had an unexpected economic impact for the Marriage Bureau. In Fiscal Year 2013, the Bureau brought in $132,000. This year, that number jumped to $215,000. He said this allowed the Bureau to make a profit for the first time ever in Sussex County. 

More than that, he said these weddings give a major economic boost to the community as a whole. 

"The average wedding when they come up even for just a turnover night is at least $500 going to the community," he said. "A hotel room, a dinner, a breakfast." 

One of the areas that has seen the most of this impact is in Rehoboth Beach, where there is a thriving gay community. Steve Elkins is Executive Director at Camp Rehoboth. He said there have been 16 weddings at the center, including his own wedding in October. 

"It's been really a boom," he said. "Civil Unions started it. Weddings really were the icing on the cake." 

This year 181 civil unions were converted over to marriages, including dozens of couples who were dating for decades. Brady said one Milton couple of more than 50 years got married this year. Elkins said he had been with his husband for more than three decades, unable to get married.

"It's pretty amazing to think that we have a beach where regardless of your sexual orientation, you can feel safe," he said. "You can walk down the boardwalk holding hands. You can know you are going to be treated fairly by all businesses. And treated equally."

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