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Schwarzenegger: Gay marriage could be good for economy

By KEVIN YAMAMURA, Sacramento Bee

Will gay marriage help boost California's economy? Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger hopes so.

In the wake of the state Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage, the Republican governor said Tuesday in San Francisco he hopes gay couples come to California for wedded bliss.

"You know, I'm wishing everyone good luck with their marriages and I hope that California's economy is booming because everyone is going to come here and get married," said Schwarzenegger, prompting laughs and applause, according to a recording.

The San Francisco Convention and Visitors Bureau anticipates a tourism boom in the city this summer, said spokeswoman Angela Jackson. The bureau's Web site promotes a gay travel section and now explains that same-sex couples are "officially allowed to marry in the state of California."

"San Francisco has always welcomed same-sex couples and now they have an opportunity to legally tie the knot," Jackson said. "I think it only makes sense that they will flock to San Francisco to do that and stay for an extended vacation or honeymoon."

The governor appeared Tuesday at an Environmental Defense Fund event to discuss practices that can help businesses become more environmentally sound. He responded to a question from a man who said he signed up to marry his partner of 22 years at San Francisco City Hall in June.

Schwarzenegger spokesman Aaron McLear said the governor meant his remark in a "lighthearted, tongue-in-cheek manner."

"Certainly whenever folks come to California and spend money, it's a good thing, but we have not done any kind of study to determine what kind of economic impact this will have," McLear said.

The governor reiterated he opposes an initiative backed by conservatives to ban gay marriage in the state constitution. He said he personally defines marriage as between a man and a woman but that he does not "want to force that opinion on anyone."

Andrew Pugno, a Folsom attorney who represents initiative backers at ProtectMarriage.com, warned that the governor is inviting legal confusion.

"I can think of many better ways to improve California's economy than redefining a major social institution," Pugno said. "More importantly, because the marriage amendment is likely to pass, it would be unfortunate to encourage gay couples to take advantage of the temporary change in the marriage laws only to have traditional marriage later reinstated by voters."


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