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Rings are exchanged in a gay marriage ceremony between Bradley Curry, left, and Mel Bryant on the steps of New York City Hall in 2004. - 


Kai Ryssdal: Here's an unusual argument in favor of gay marriage that'll be music to the ears of state treasurers everywhere.New York City's Comptroller has released a report that says the Big Apple would net $142 million during the first three years of legalized gay marriage. New York State overall would get $184 million, mainly from the uptick in visitors attending the nuptials. Ashley Milne-Tyte looked into whether cash might carry the political day.

Ashley Milne-Tyte: The report says same-sex couples planning to marry and spend the night in New York State would spend about $60 million in the three years after gay marriage became legal. Friends and family would spend millions, too.

David Birdsell is dean of public affairs at New York City's Baruch College. He says the report's numbers are pretty conservative.

David Birdsell: They assume that gay and lesbian marriages will spend less per marriage than the average heterosexual couple marriage.

On the flip side, the report also states that some businesses would have to pay more in health care costs if gay marriage was legalized.

Matt Foreman of the National Gay and Lesbian Taskforce says gay marriage would bring more tourist dollars to New York. But, he says, gay marriage is about more than just money.

Matt Foreman: The much larger picture is not about money, and not about tax revenue, and not about income streams to hotels. It's really about protecting families.

That is, giving gay couples the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual ones. But could the money angle sway lawmakers?

Baruch's David Birdsell says gay marriage would only bring in a fraction of the tourist dollars the state and city already receive.

Birdsell: So I think that this is unlikely to be the hinge that will change many people's opinion. But it certainly buttresses the notion that this is consistent with sound public management.

Birdsell says that the better you treat people, the more money they'll spend. And the more often they'll return.

In New York, I'm Ashley Milne-Tyte for Marketplace.