Same-Sex Marriage Boosts Morale and Economy

On Sunday, hundreds of gay and lesbian couples gathered to get married in Washington State. The Seattle Times’ coverage of the historic day includes a spectrum of individual couples’ stories. Seattle Mayor Mike McGinn was quoted during the ceremonies at Seattle City Hall saying, “hey, rest of the country: get on board. There’s nothing but love and happiness happening here.”

Photo by Bettina Hansen / The Seattle Times
First Baptist Church in Seattle: 14 male and 11 female couples take part in a group ceremony on December 9, 2012.

As reported in the Puget Sound Business Journal, many Puget Sound businesses are using the historic day as an opportunity to gain a foothold in the same-sex wedding market. Seattle’s Renaissance Hotel, for example, offered a one-night special on December 9 for same-sex couples, including a luxury hotel room and a bottle of sparkling wine for $74. The Four Seasons in downtown Seattle offered a private ceremony and room package for $1,000. A UCLA study released in January estimated that new spending on same-sex wedding-related arrangements would generate $88 million for Washington State’s economy over three years, with up to $57 million in the first year. Another article from The Seattle Times covered the business boosts expected as a result of same-sex marriages in Washington State. The economic impact of the new law has already been apparent, according to reports from local business owners interviewed in both articles.

Concerned about health care options for employees?

The Health Care Authority (HCA) is gathering input from small business employers (5 – 50 employees) throughout Washington State to help guide the development of the new health insurance marketplace launching in 2014, currently called the Health Benefit Exchange, or the Exchange. The input will be gathered through a small employer survey that is open until November 10.  Focus groups for small business employers will also be held in Seattle on November 14.

The Exchange will provide a consumer-friendly online portal allowing people to easily compare their health insurance choices and enroll in what works best for them. Individuals will also have access to tax credits and cost-sharing subsidies to make coverage more affordable. Another part of the Exchange, the Small Business Health Options Program (or SHOP), will allow small businesses to purchase group health insurance for their employees.

Click here to take the survey.

For more information, visit the HCA website.