Economic impact of same-sex marriage in La Crosse Co. - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Economic impact of same-sex marriage in La Crosse Co.

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LA CROSSE, Wis. (WXOW) – With a stay on same-sex marriage in Wisconsin, some area businesses are feeling a stay on potential customers.

There's a hefty price tag that comes with a wedding. Couples need to buy a wedding license, maybe a wedding dress or tuxedo, even get their hair styled.

The county hasn't officially added up the potential monetary impact of same-sex marriages in the county, but some local businesses are waiting for the stay to be lifted for that presumed boost in business.

Nine couples went to the La Crosse County Clerk's office last week looking for a marriage license.

"With the mandatory five day waiting period the first day they could have picked them up was today,” said La Crosse County Clerk Ginny Dankmeyer.

But the phone calls she made Monday were not about picking up licenses.

"I can't issue it to you,” Dankmeyer said over the phone, explaining the hold. “It will remain in our office for 30 days. After 30 days then we'll void it off.”

A stay on Wisconsin's same-sex marriage ban means a stay on the nine licenses issued in La Crosse County; costing $90 a piece.

But Dankmeyer says it won't have too much of an impact.

"For each license issued, it's just $45 that the county keeps,” she said.

Those nine licenses are a small fraction of the 700 to 800 marriage licenses the county issues each year.

The clerk's office took in $30,880 from those licenses last year alone, according to Dankmeyer.

But staff at area businesses, like Flair Hairstyling in La Crosse, said more weddings means more hairdos, and each extra hairdo means more revenue.

"More bridesmaids, it'd bring in more groomsmen's sisters, more people into the salon, period,” said hairstylist Emily Purvis, adding “It'd be like $100 versus $50.”

Gay marriage in Minnesota is expected to bring in $42 million in the first three years, alone, according to The Williams Institute.

Iowa saw $12 to $13 million in the first two years of legalization, according to an ABC News report.

"The first thing they think about is probably the venue, and then flowers,” said Julie Yeager, owner of Sunshine Floral in La Crosse.

This past week she already saw two same-sex couples come into her shop asking about floral arrangements for their wedding.

"The bride's bouquet, and then the attendants, corsages, boutonnieres, centerpieces at the venue,” Yeager listed.

As for the economic impact on La Crosse County — in terms of wedding and tourism business, and potential jobs created — the La Crosse Area Convention and Visitor's Bureau said they haven't quantified that number, yet.

The idea is still too new and there's also a stay on the legislation, so staff said it's difficult to really estimate the impact.

Some wedding-related companies told News 19 they're unsure of the impact gay weddings will have.

Other said there are so many wedding options that they don't expect to see too big of a business boost, if any at all.

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