Press Room

June 21, 2004

Category: Civil Unions

New HRC Report Shows Little Impact on Business Costs if Same-Sex Couples Are Allowed to Marry

'When same-sex couples are afforded equal marriage rights, it won't affect the bottom line,' said HRC President Cheryl Jacques.

WASHINGTON - American businesses will see very little impact on their benefits costs if same-sex couples are allowed to marry throughout the country, according to a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation. The report comes one day after the Congressional Budget Office issued an analysis of the cost to the federal government of recognizing marriages between same-sex couples - also negligible.

"When same-sex couples are afforded equal marriage rights, it won't affect the bottom line," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Denying marriage to same-sex couples only serves to exclude them from the same rights and responsibilities as other families."

Using the best data available, the report concludes that most businesses will have no employees who will marry a same-sex partner, and the average business will see no noticeable increase in employee benefit costs.

"This report puts an end to the claims of some extremists that marriage for same-sex couples will be a financial drain on corporate America," said Kim I. Mills, HRC's education director. "The same people made the same claims about domestic partner benefits. They were proven wrong then, too."

The report, The Business Cost Impact of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples, was produced jointly by the HRC Foundation and the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies. It was written by M. V. Lee Badgett, Ph.D., an associate professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Gary Gates, Ph.D., a research associate in the Center on Labor, Human Services and Population at the Urban Institute.

Among the report's findings:

"These conclusions are based on the assumption that all same-sex couples will marry," Mills said. "Based on what we've seen with Vermont's civil unions, it's much more probable that about half would marry, cutting the cost estimates in this survey in half."

The report also looked at retirement benefits and found that employer costs for defined contribution plans won't be affected since employer contributions are not based on a family's status. Employer costs for defined benefit plans may increase slightly, the study found.

The mission of the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies is to support scholarly inquiry and to enhance major public policy debates through research, analysis, and education in order to create an equal and integrated society for people of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.