Equal Marriage Rights and Photography

I am going to step over my normally neutral line here for a few moments and write about a topic very much in the headlines, especially today; Equal Marriage Rights and what it means for photographers (and other small businesses).

Yesterday Maine voters repealed a state law that would have allowed same-sex couples to wed. Whether you are for or against gay’s right to marry, I want to point out how this affects my photography business as well as other small businesses in our economy.

First we need to look at a few numbers.

US Population as of 2009 – 307,855,901
Total Married in the US (not including divorced) – 67,314,661 (22%)
Gay Men in the US – 31,678,372 (21%)
Gay Women in the US – 34,541,432 (22%)
(Data sources: via www.census.gov, www.gallup.com)

Based on the numbers above we can make a few assumptions safely. If the average marriage rate among straight people in the US is 22% then we can assume that roughly the same amount of the gay population will also marry. That means that were gay marriage legal in all 50 US states, 14,479,384 more people would get married. Assuming it takes two people to get married (I don’t know another way) then there would be an additional 7,239,692 weddings per year. This is a minimum as we are not including the divorced in the above statistics.

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According to www.costofwedding.com (logical place to look I thought) US couples spend between $15,299 and $25,498 on their wedding. This means the average cost is $20,398. In my area the averages are slightly higher at $18,205 to $30,342 or an average of $24274. We will stick with the lower number of $20,398.

If we multiply the average wedding cost by the number of marriages that could happen if gay marriage were permitted, the total revenue for marriages comes to $147,675,566,144. That’s Billion. And that is minus honeymoons and engagement rings!

The average spent on a photographer (no video) in my area is $1700. If I, as a photographer, were able to do exclusively same sex marriages (no straight weddings), and I only do 20 weddings a year out of a possible 50+, my probable revenue is about $34,000 per year. Keep in mind that when I do a wedding I need to hire at least one assistant. That means I could put one person to work for every 20 weddings. So in addition to the money not being spent, we are also keeping 1,000 people from earning a living.

Now keep in mind that the numbers so far only include the wedding. Engagement rings, honeymoons, Photography and videography post processing are not included in the above. I won’t even venture a guess in to how much that could add to the totals.

But! I will venture into the world of divorce. (I’m an expert being divorced 3 times myself)

If we consider that the average divorce rate is 50% for first marriage, 67% for second marriages and 74% for third marriages, as per Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri. Now we can do some additional calculations.

It is estimated by divorcesupport.about.com that the average divorce costs each person $15,000. If we used the divorce rate of 50%, the total revenue for divorce comes to $108,595,376,858. You lawyers out there stop smiling.

By combining our two totals of $147,675,566,144 for same sex marriages and $108,595,376,858 for same sex divorce, we have the total possible revenue of $256,270,610,002.

This means that same sex marriage cannot be considered a subject of religion anymore. This is cold numbers telling us that same sex marriage is a matter of economics plain and simple. It’s a matter of a quarter of a trillion dollars!

In a time when the unemployment rate is over 15% (9% actively collecting unemployment and an estimated [up to] 7% no longer eligible) we should do what is necessary to get people back to work any way we can. We need to stimulate the economy and start the spending (intelligently this time please) and pull this country out of this recession that is costing millions their homes and millions more their life savings. We need to band together and work together to create jobs and happy homes. Same sex marriage is a step in the right direction and it is the beginning of the end of the recession and more importantly, the beginning of equal rights for everyone.

As of today I will be offering a special discount to anyone that joins my mailing list and supports equal rights and equal marriage. Click on the “Join Us” link at the top right side of this page or click here to sign up right now. It’s free and simple to do. If you sign up you will receive a special discount on your photo session, not just today, not just tomorrow, this discount will apply for as long as the fight for equal marriage rights remains. Sign up on the Join Us page and learn all the details.

I would also suggest that you take a look at the Human Rights Campaign (www.HRC.org) website to see what you can do to stimulate the economy while promoting equal rights for all.

Until next time, Happy Shooting!

16 replies
  1. Paul Conrad
    Paul Conrad says:

    Well stated Michael.

    But the real issue is not monetary, but moral. Of course the same people advocating against gay marriage are the same people cheating on their spouses or in the closet.

  2. Michael
    Michael says:

    And perhaps on their taxes as well. The point is that if we are having a time getting these people to understand that love doesn’t see gender or sexual preference, then perhaps we can get them to see that it costs them money as well.

    They say that the best way to a persons heart is through there stomach. If you find the heart is made of stone, perhaps try a new route, through their bank account.

  3. Chris Black
    Chris Black says:

    Michael, with all due respect, your logic is convoluted and ultimately wrong. You can torture stats until they confess to what you want, but that doesn’t make it right. It’s a sad day when you start putting money over morality. Everything should be judged through the lens of the bible, because ultimately you will be judged not by man but by God. There is no God you say? In that case let me ask you something. Who then sets the moral standard for society so that chaos doesn’t rule? If every man is equal, then who are you to tell me my morality is wrong ( and vise versa)? If that’s the case, then if I’m a pedofile who says I was born with a desire to have sex with 5 year old, who are you to say that’s wrong? You’re just a human like he is. What about child sacrifice that the cults engage in? Beastiality? Again, using that logic no one can say that’s wrong. How about society making that call? That didn’t work in Germany when over 6 million were killed. Or in Stalin’s Russia or Mao’s China. Unless you use a morality based on God and not man, you go down a slippery slope to chaos where any behavior is OK. America is going down that slope now. Judge not (which is taken out of biblical context BTW), diversity, etc. is the rule of the day. And stats show the result. The highest rates of murder, teen pregnancy, divorce, etc in our history. Life itself is no longer valued because if you evolved from apes and wont’ be held accountable when you die, then who cares if you kill? When you use God as a moral compass, when someone says “Who are you to say what’s right and wrong?”, you simply say “I’m not saying it. I’m a human just like you. I’m saying that God says it’s wrong”. Anyway, something to consider. (BTW Paul, christians are human and can be hypocrites just like you and everyone else. So using your logic what you say must be invalid because there are non christian hypocrites too)

  4. Michael
    Michael says:


    I am a firm believer in equality. That includes equal time. I could have easily just not approved your comments above. Normally I would not even comment, however the self righteousness of views like the ones you state above are based on incomplete and dated views of the Bible. Please take the time to review the following.

    John 8:34 – A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
    Romans 13:10 – Love does no harm to its neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.
    1 Peter 4:8 – Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.
    John 4:7 – Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.
    1 John 4:19 – We love because he first loved us.

    Also please read the entire page here: http://www.otkenyer.hu/truluck/six_bible_passages.html

    I would personally address the passages in Leviticus, however I could not do it so well as this:

  5. Amy
    Amy says:

    Michael, if anyhting your “torture” of statistics is quite simple, if not overly so. Insomuch as this could not be considered government spending, I believe the concept of fiscal multiplication of the money supply would still hold water. While the current multiplier value is difficult to determine in this unique economic climate, estimates from the 2nd and 3rd quarter of 2009 place it at anywhere from 1.5-2. In effect, for each additional dollar of spend $1.50 to $2.00 is added to the general supply of money (this combines the initial spend, and all subsequent spend – a marrying couple pays a florist who pays a grower, who buys a TV, which pays a Best Buy associate’s salary, who takes her son out to dinner for good grades, where the server gets a tip and buys a new hockey stick, etc., ad nauseum). With apologies to any classical economists for my blatant Keynesian bias here!

    And may I please comment that religion and morals are not mutually exclusive, nor necessarily (as we see time and time again) mutually inclusive. Hate is hate, a troll is a troll, and I would be happy and proud to vote for President Bartlett, fictional or no.

    I choose love and respect as my guiding morals, and I choose love and respect for my friends and family who often see very little of either. I think Jesus, Allah, Yahweh ben Yahweh, Buddha, John Lennon or the Flying Spaghetti Monster would tell me and Mr. Albany to rock on.

    Pax Vobiscum
    Alumnus of McGill University and Montreal Theological Seminary, BTh (for whatever that’s worth)

  6. hallie
    hallie says:

    Interesting take on the economic side of things. Haven’t heard anything about this; but I wonder what impact gay marriage would have on organized crime, oh! I mean the insurance industry?

    As for the bible thumpers; sorry I’m not feeling too tolerent today. I’d like to remind them that their capricious christian god demanded the human sacrifice of his own human child. If people want to believe in the Bible, chapter and verse, let them but keep it in the church and out of my government.

  7. Fred
    Fred says:


    Whether all agree on the details of your economic analysis or not, one point is beyond dispute: the amount of money involved is enormous. You made that very clear.

    My folks and I are big West Wing fans. The scene you included is one of my personal favorites. I too would vote for Pres. Bartlet any day, if he were a real candidate.

    I am a former Christian Fundamentalist/Evangelical/Born Again Christian. My involvement with that movement nearly destroyed my life. It took 17-18 years for me to undo all the damage done to me during the 3-4 years of my intense involvement with the movement during my undergraduate years. I have made many enormous sacrifices as a result of having my life sent so far off course by this colossally destructive, authoritarian, loveless, graceless, mindless, ignorant scourge on humanity. These are harsh words, and it saddens me that every one of these criticisms is well-earned. I wish to God it were not so. I could cry when I think of how this movement destroys individuals, families, and communities.

    There is now a counter movement of ex-fundamentalists who are getting on with their lives and trying to heal from this devastating experience. For example, see Marlene Winell’s book, “Leaving the Fold: A Guide for Former Fundamentalists and Others Leaving Their Religion.” Bishop John Shelby Spong, one of my favorite thinkers, has written much on the disservice done to the Christian community done by extremists who would hijack the Bible with their unthinking and uninformed hyper-literal interpretation.

    Michael, I commend you for taking a firm and enlightened stand on this important issue — equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation. None of us are free until all of us our free.

  8. Michael
    Michael says:

    You may have missed an additional opportunity for photogs to benefit. I read somewhere that, at least in the US, couples are having divorce photo sessions (to celebrate that it’s finally over?). So if gay marriages would break up at about the same rate as straight marriages…

  9. Dave
    Dave says:

    Michael, I hadn’t heard of you or seen your work until today. I got lost in the numbers and cost/benefit argument, but to me it simply boils down to: love is never wrong. However it’s expressed.

    By the way, your photos are beautiful.

  10. Wendy
    Wendy says:

    Michael!! 8)

    What a pleasant surprise to find such a refreshing argument for SSM on the webiste of a fellow photographer (and fellow gay person, I assume!) Bravo! The comments that your post inspired are also fabulous. I will post a link to your site on my FB page and hope that it brings more of those dollars your way — your work is lovely!

  11. Eriik Curtis
    Eriik Curtis says:

    @Paul Conrad, I am not cheating on my spouse or in the closet. I am not in favor of same sex marage but at the same time I am not “advocating against it”. What I mean is that I would not go out of my way to oppose it [SSM] but if I were asked my position, I would voice it.

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