On questions of the state versus the private sector, The New York Times doesn’t usually come down on the side of business. But when a liberal social issue was at stake, the paper mustered sympathy for private enterprise – even to the point of overstating an industry’s economic importance.
The Times reported on the “huge economic impact” of California voters’ approval of Proposition 8 banning same-sex marriage in a Nov. 6 article titled “Demise of Same-Sex Weddings Disheartens Businesses.”
Jesse McKinley wrote for the Times, “California business owners – particularly those in the marriage business – were trying to determine how many wedding cakes would now go unsold and how many tuxedos unrented.”
McKinley also speculated on the hit the state’s gay and lesbian tourism business would take from the “terrible publicity” the ban would generate. San Francisco, Palm Springs, Los Angeles and San Diego are all among the U.S.’s top 10 gay and lesbian travel destinations, according to the Times.
The story cited a June estimate from the pro-gay Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, that, “legalizing same-sex ceremonies in the state would result in about $63.8 million in government tax and fee revenue over three years.”
But as the article also noted, California’s budget deficit for 2009 is $11.2 billion. According to the Williams numbers, gay marriage would put just $31.9 million in the state coffers next year – easing the deficit less than three tenths of a percent (0.28 percent).
The media has used Williams Institute numbers before to promote California’s embrace of gay marriage. In June, a CNBC segment reported that the Williams Institute estimated a $684-million “boost” to the state economy over three years. As Business & Media Institute’s wrote at the time, “California’s gross domestic product was $1.55 trillion in 2007. The potential ‘boost’ – an average of $228 million annually – would add a little over 1/100th of 1 percent (0.0147 percent) to the California economy.”