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Which Industries Stand to Benefit From Same-Sex Marriage?

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The LGBT community has serious buying power -- nearly $800 billion worth in this country alone. That kind of capital is a motivating factor that might just turn the bigotry tide.

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While gay marriage still has half of the Supreme Court's robes in a bunch and Catholic bishops hunkered in total prayer and meat-fasting mode, more civilized parts of the world like, oh say, Uruguay have found themselves on the side of civil rights -- and laughing all the way to the bank.

Until recently, same-sex marriage proponents have largely focused the upsides of legalization -- aside from keeping the Constitution constitutional -- in terms of the personal, social, and cultural benefits of taking part in the institution. For those in society unmoved by the touchy-feely appeals, here's a motivating factor that might just turn the bigotry tide: money.

The LGBT community has serious buying power -- some nearly $800 billion worth, in fact, in this country alone. When legalized marriage is open to this demographic, whole industries and institutions get to dip into its collective cookie jar. Minyanville is here to tell you which ones will benefit the most.

Wedding Tourism

Some of the most obvious and immediate beneficiaries of the same-sex walk down the aisle are the myriad enterprises that play a part -- both directly and indirectly -- in the wedding industry. Within the first year of enacting the Marriage Equality Act in June 2011, New York City's economy got a $259 million boost -- well on its way to surpassing the $400 million the State's Senate Independent Democratic Conference had projected over the first three years combined.

Through spending in area hotels, restaurants, catering halls, bridal boutiques, beauty salons and suppliers, caterers, etc. and the resulting tax revenue, gay and lesbian marriage made enough money to pay the city's parks and recreation budget for the year (or to buy each resident three Big Gulps). 2013 is expected to raise $300,000 just in marriage licenses and ceremony fees.

Let's not forget large, public companies like hotel chains, rental car agencies, jewelers, and big box wedding registry retailers that wouldn't have otherwise been patronized.

Minivan and SUV Manufacturers

Love. Marriage. Baby carriage. Minivan.

In researching the purchasing decisions of people in their child-rearing years (ages 28-45), TrueCar.com foundgay wedding gay marriage same sex marriage business that the family roadster is still the auto of choice. "Generation X buyers... chose cars that were comfortable and convenient for their lifestyle," said analyst Kristen Andersson. "They chose larger, more luxurious cars to take their families on vacations or kids to play soccer with ample room to store equipment and luggage."

Of the top ten models purchased by this demographic, only two -- the BMW M3 Sedan and Chevrolet (NYSE:GM) Aveo -- didn't fall into the minivan or SUV category. The Volkswagen (PINK:VLKAY) Routan, Nissan Quest and Armada, Honda (NYSE:HMC) Odyssey, Toyota (NYSE:TM) Land Cruiser and Sienna, Volvo XC90, and Infiniti QX56, respectively, comprised the rest of the list.

In addition to higher profit margins for automakers, bigger cars generally mean less fuel efficiency and costlier insurance premiums -- a boon to both the Exxons and Geicos of the economy.

Speaking of insurance, Progressive (NYSE:PGR) et al.'s same-sex marriage payday isn't limited to its auto arm. The life and term insurance business largely relies on partnering up -- unless the majority of policyholders are eccentrics who are leaving everything to the local research institute on captive parrot breeding.

Real Estate and Home Improvement

Another fairly predictable corollary to settling down is, literally, settling down. According to 2012 data from the National Association of Realtors, 65% of homeowners are married couples. Down the aisle to over the threshold has been a societal procession for generations and there's no evidence to suggest those in same-sex relationships would deviate from that custom.

Moreover, gay and lesbian homeowners invest more in maintaining and improving their properties. In 2009, during the height of the economic downturn, a national consumer survey found the demographic spent twice as much as its straight neighbors on renovations, reporting higher rates of purchase at Home Depot (NYSE:HD) Lowe's (NYSE:LOW), Sears (NASDAQ:SHLD), Best Buy (NYSE:BBY), and Costco (NASDAQ:COST).

"Gay men and lesbians have a reputation of being major home improvement shoppers and this survey reaffirms that," said Matt Tumminello, president of marketing firm Target 10. "Renovating and refurbishing homes is in many ways a part of gay culture. Even in bad economic times, they are not stopping."
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