Volume 17 • Issue 37 | February 11 - 17, 2005

Talking Point

Shouldn’t we want gay couples flocking to N.Y.C.?

Photo courtesy of the Museum of Chinese in the Americas
On Saturday, Mayor Mike Bloomberg announced he was appealing a court ruling striking down the state ban on same sex marriages and also bought flowers for his girlfriend, Diana Taylor, the state’s banking superintendent, on the couple’s visit to Chinatown’s flower market.

By Wickham Boyle

Mayor Bloomberg made some very outrageous statements last week regarding the adverse impact sanctioning and performing gay marriages would have on N.Y.C. He used words like “chaos, inundation, and overwhelmed.” What he meant is that thousands of gay couples would “flock or descend” on the city and we couldn’t handle it.

Well, we handled the damn Republican Convention and we are, wrong headedly, I admit, considering building a new gigantic sports stadium. So Bloomberg seems to have forgotten some pretty basic economic development tenets; namely that people travelling into N.Y.C. is one of the most lucrative sources of revenue that we have. And what I remember from my days working at the N.Y.C. Department of Cultural Affairs is that activities such as the arts, and if I may presume, marriage will spin out a stream of positive tangential income.

When I worked for the city’s premier arts granting and development agency we were always commissioning studies that proved how beneficial the arts were to the city because they attracted tourists who came and stayed in hotels, ate in restaurants and had a very good time. Pardon my ignorance but don’t wedding parties do the same thing.

All the weddings I have attended, from gay to straight, from old folks, to nearly kids have been joyous occasions. And all of them have been followed by taking taxis, riding in limos, eating in restaurants filled with flowers, bought from local vendors. The attendees stayed in hotels, they ate out rather than cooking on hot plates in their rooms, maybe they took in shows or went to museums, perhaps they even went to ball games.

In short weddings seem to contribute in a very positive way to the economic life of this city. The mayor seems perfectly happy to embolden the police department to issue parking tickets for any lunatic infraction. I received one last week as I sat in my car waiting for my daughter. I bent down to pick something up and when I popped my head up there was a cop who said: I already touched my pen to the paper so I am giving you a ticket for leaving your car illegally. Now that sort of thing is economic development with a very negative rollout.

Gay weddings attracting people to our fabulous city where they will dine, dance and remember us with great joy seem like a wonderful economic development tool. If in fact there is a real worry that the small cramped and ugly office at the Municipal Building will be over run with applications for marriage licenses than let’s brainstorm to use unlikely spots as satellite office.

Perhaps all the theaters that go unused during the day could be corralled as extra wedding sites, or ancillary office space. I thought we were looking to attract more visitors to Downtown Manhattan to give businesses an extra boost. There are plenty of upscale and just funky fun eateries Downtown so let’s give them the chance to host pre or post wedding fetes for all these visitors.

Rather than chaos I see this as an added opportunity for N.Y.C. to welcome tourists who come here for the best of everything. And that would include great wedding for all. Bloomberg, step up and show us that you at least understand economics if not humanity.

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