What Do Neil Patrick Harris and Jennifer Gerarda Brown Have in Common?

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In “Proposition 8 — The Musical,” Neil Patrick Harris argues “there’s money to be made” — from weddings (and subsequent divorces) if California legalizes same-sex marriage. But my coauthor Jennifer Gerard Brown beat him to the punch. In “Competitive Federalism and the Legislative Incentives to Recognize Same-Sex Marriage” 68 S. CAL. L. REV. 745 (1995) she:

estimated that the present value of a change in marriage law for the first-mover state could reach three or four billion dollars. [E]ach tourist dollar spent generates additional private income, tax revenue, and jobs. Forbes magazine recently estimated that if same-sex couples currently living together would marry, they would spend $16.8 billion in the first several years following legalization.

Brad Sears
and Lee Badgett have estimated that same-sex marriage would “boost California state and local government revenues by over $63.8 million.”

Jennifer and I have tried to further harness the potential economic incentives for a state legislature to embrace marriage equality by creating the

Vacation Pledge for Equal Marriage Rights

We, the undersigned, promise to vacation in the first state that democratically chooses (by either legislation or voter referendum) to legalize same-sex marriage within three years of the effective date of the legislation.

Lots of people around the country have been upset about the Prop 8 vote. The vacation pledge gives these people something concrete to do. The pledge lets anyone who supports same-sex marriage commit to an economic thank-you to the first state to legalize by legislation or voter referendum. (You can sign the form here and you can find out more info here.)

Of course, opponents of same-sex marriage can try to organize a vacation boycott against the first state that legalizes same-sex marriage. But there is an important economic asymmetry between boycotts (promises not to buy) and buycotts (promises to buy). There is less than a 5 percent chance that a random person will vacation in a particular state. So a “buycott” potentially moves a 5 percent chance toward a 100 percent vacation probability, while a “boycott” potentially moves a 5 percent chance toward 0 percent. You need a lot more boycotters to equal the same effect as a buycott for the simple reason that most of the boycotters wouldn’t have bought anyway.

lax focus

here's a related question: on the marriage forms in New York, I don't recall anywhere asking the officiant to check to see whether the groom is a man and the bride is a woman. It just has places to sign for the groom, the bride and their witnesses. Although a don't-ask/don't-tell strategy wouldn't do the honor and dignity that people deserve, its an interesting civil disobedience strategy and maybe an effective loop-hole in the short run.

Perhaps New York officiants could employ this strategy as civil disobedience as also as a way to help our ailing wedding related businesses.


Was the vacation pledge specifically worded that way to exclude Massachusetts? Because MA was the first and is currently the only state that allows same sex marriages, but it could be argued that the legislators didn't vote to allow it, they just voted to prevent an amendment to the state constituion that would ban it.

While I see the benefit of not offering an incentive for an action already taken, I think Massachusetts' unique status is worth mentioning. Maybe it's not enough to convince someone to vacation here, but I think it could be a consideration when thinking about moving.

I've suggested that we change our state moto to:

"Massachusetts, the winters suck, but the tolerance ain't half bad."


Progressives who favor same-sex marriage need look no further than their own side of the political aisle for opposition to their cause.

According to exit polling, 93 percent of black voters in California voted for Barack Obama, but 75 percent of them also voted in favor of Prop 8.

I guess that means that while they were voting in favor of diversity and inclusion, they were also voting...against it.

Frankly, (And I say that as a center-right Republican who is neutral on gay marriage) if you guys are so confused and conflicted about the issue, how can you expect anyone else to get it straight (no pun intended)?

I'd suggest you sort that one out before you decide where to vacation.



Are gays intent on getting married? The answer is, they are not. In places where gay marriage has been available for years, Gays don't get married. Toronto has had gay marriage for years, and through 2008 only one gay couple has been married. Last year, only 107 gay marriages have been performed.
The city of Toronto, which hosted the claimed "million-strong" annual Gay Pride March on Sunday, has one of the largest homosexual populations in Canada. Despite this fact, however, the demand for same-sex marriage licenses has drastically declined. Last year, the city issued 107 licenses to Canadian homosexual couples, whereas this year it has so far only issued 1.

Even though the overall number of “marriages” has declined significantly, the proportion of foreign couples has increased to two-thirds of the licenses issued. According to Reuters, last year Toronto gave out 924 same-sex “marriage” licenses, and of these, 338 were for American couples and 479 for foreign couples. This year, of the 320 same-sex “marriage” licenses issued, 118 were for Americans and 201 for foreigners.

The Gay Toronto Tourism Guide claims homosexual persons make up 14% of the city's population, thereby making Toronto the third largest gay community in the world. Nevertheless, this year's 1 legal gay “marriage” comprised only 0.01% of the marriages taking place in Ontario's capital. This would seem to strongly confirm past charges that the political and legal campaigns which successfully and dramatically changed the institution of marriage in Canada were ultimately about nothing more than forcing acceptance of homosexuality.



I'm not convinced that legalizing gay marriage helps the economy.

If gay people are not allowed to marry, what do they do with the money they would otherwise spend on marriage-related things? Do they just burn it, or do they just spend it in other ways?


Re: Tristan (#2) ... Massachusetts is not the only state that permits gay marriage. My home state of Connecticut does, too, effective just last month after an October decision of the state Supreme Court. It does not appear it will be changed, especially since state voters turned down an option to hold a constitutional convention (which might have enacted an amendment to abolish gay marriage).

Having said that, CT would, like MA, be excluded from this particular buycott, because gay marriage here came about due to a court decision, not a legislative or democratic process.

Caca Fuego

Douglas Wilson wisely responded to the substance of this video (http://www.dougwils.com/index.asp?Action=Anchor&CategoryID=1&BlogID=6107):

'Here is the argument presented by Prop 8: The Musical. Christians who profess to follow the Bible must, of necessity, pick and choose which verses are authoritative whenever those verses declare something to be an abomination. This is because that while sodomy is declared to be an abomination (Lev. 20:13), so is shrimp cocktail (Lev. 11:12). Moreover, certain things that are assumed by our video production theologians to be swell and okay in Scripture -- like selling your daughter into slavery (Ex 21:7-8) or stoning your wife (Dt. 22:21) -- are things that moderns (both groups on stage in the musical) would universally recoil from as an abomination right now in our day. Apparently there is still such a thing as an abomination, which is something I suppose, because I was starting to wonder.

'But the argument resumes -- since, therefore, the Bible is clearly an antique book which can only be followed if we pick and choose, the Christians are invited to pick and choose according to the standard proposed by this new Jesus, a standard of "love," not "hate." This picking and choosing is subsumed under the authority of the reigning idol of American secularism, the "separation of church and state." I have to admit that it was quite a trip to watch Jesus singing about His submission to Jeffersonian ideals, but there it was, on key and everything.

'But who is this new Jesus exactly, and why should we listen to him? And if everybody picks and chooses, then why on earth do we have to opt for "love" as defined by tatted hippies? Why can't we opt for "justice" as defined by tatted longshoremen instead, who like nothing better on a weekend than to get drunk the more better to be able to bash gays? If the Bible is nothing but a grab bag for pickers and choosers, then so are the world's ethical systems a bigger grab bag for picking and choosing. You see, once you have convinced me that biblical hermeutics is just arbitrarily picking and choosing, you will at some point have to argue for a standard that will get me to stop picking and choosing. And secularism doesn't have any such thing, however much they wish they did.

'Which is why it is so funny, therefore, to see all the moral indignation over the passage of Proposition 8. Once we have gotten to this point, the [pro-gay] lobby has nothing whatever to say to the voters of California who went into their voting booths . . . in order to pick and chose. Ethics are just picking and choosing, according to personal preference? Yes? Okay . . . no, no, not that, you dogmatic pig!

'By the way, I am not going to spend my time here refuting their sophomoric decontextualization of Ex. 21:7-8 and Dt. 22:21, because an ability to follow the refutation would depend upon them having read a book or two, and there is no evidence that anything like that has occurred. Another time perhaps.'

For the curious who care about how Christians actually do approach such Old Testament texts, see, for example, this article:


which discusses similar silly hermeneutical claims made on 'The West Wing' (and cribbed from an email forward!).



DJH - I didn't hear the news that the voters had shot down the constitutional convention, that's great news (although apparently not headline grabbing nationally; unfortunetly).

It took at least a couple years in MA for the whole constitutional amendment issue to work its way thorugh the process before finaly getting voted down


I'm pretty sure this was a Simpsons episode.


Interesting that the people have spoken... twice and we are talking the economics of the decision.

Why vote if economics ruel the day?



So if I'm understanding your post correctly, you're defining the secularist argument for personally established ethics like this:

1. People establish a code of personal ethics by either (a) following an established code of ethics 100% dogmatically, (b) picking and choosing from a specific code of ethics as a person sees fit, or (c) picking and choosing from any and all codes of ethics as a person sees fit.
2. (a) does not exist because no one can adhere to a code of ethics 100% of the time, i.e. Christians eat shrimp cocktails.
3. Because there are no boundaries on what each person deems morally right or morally corrupt with both (b) and (c), there is in reality no difference between them.
4. Therefore, all codes of ethics have equal merit.

And although its not explicitly stated, the issue you have is with #2, that someone in fact can adhere (or at least agree to) a code of ethics 100% of the time. Christians CAN eat shrimp cocktails, because God said that's OK.

So from that post lets run down the things the Bible says:
1. Homosexuality is wrong
2. Eating shellfish is wrong
3. Nah, eating shellfish is OK
4. Talking to women on their period is wrong
5. Just kidding, 4 is OK
6. Sacrifice a cow
7. Jesus counts. No sacrifice needed.
8. Keep holy the sabbath
9. Eh, you can take that one off the books too.
10. Keep slaves
11. But don't kill them! Be nice to your slaves!

Does that sound like a coherent dogma? Does that sound like something to base 100% of your ethics on? Which part?

How about this - the Bible says homosexuality is wrong, but in the New Testament, Jesus says "Love your neighbor as yourself".

To me, "Loving your neighbor as yourself" means not denying my neighbor the chance to live in happiness, to love someone truly and deeply, to enjoy the same rights protections as I do as child of God and a citizen of the land of the free.

If you're going to use the Bible as the basis for your arguments, make sure you don't forget the most important part - love and respect for your fellow man.



I don't think the issue is that important per se, and that it is not a human rights issue or anything important, as marriage is just another government service (it's not like legalizing the act itself, which would be terribly oppressive.) But I strongly support legalizing gay marriage because it encourages the seperation of church and state.


Aha, I mean, "refraining from providing gay marriage is not like ILlegalizing the act itself, which would be terribly oppressive."

Want to make that clear!


The wedding industry really needs to get up and start lobbying for their bailout the way banks and automakers have been. Convince congress that the wedding industry is so pervasive we cannot do without it and the only way to save it is to open up a wave of new marriages. This seems to be the current fast-track method to getting unpopular legislation to pass.


#11 - Nice straw man.

Peter Muldoon

#11. I generally agree with what you're saying, but i have to disagree with your argument.

"2. (a) does not exist because no one can adhere to a code of ethics 100% of the time, i.e. Christians eat shrimp cocktails."

You are supporting your argument with a false premise, i.e. that one must be able to adhere to a code of ethics 100% of the time in order for it to exist. You can do better than this.



Re: The Wedding Industry

I have little doubt that legalizing gay marriage would lead to big profits for the wedding industry. It's kind of funny when you think about it though... you don't need a state marriage license to have a wedding; and you don't need a wedding to get a state marriage license. Technically they're not related at all.

It's all tradition I guess. That's funny as well... tradition would drive something so UNtraditional.


since y'all are having a hard time figuring out how and why religious people can actually justify their support of Prop 8 without being bigots -- I will share with you a proclamation that came from the living Mormon prophet in 1995 (13 years ago, before gay marriage was even a blip on the radar):
We, the First Presidency and the Council of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, solemnly proclaim that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and that the family is central to the Creator's plan for the eternal destiny of His children.

All human beings—male and female—are created in the image of God. Each is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, and, as such, each has a divine nature and destiny. Gender is an essential characteristic of individual premortal, mortal, and eternal identity and purpose.

In the premortal realm, spirit sons and daughters knew and worshipped God as their Eternal Father and accepted His plan by which His children could obtain a physical body and gain earthly experience to progress toward perfection and ultimately realize their divine destiny as heirs of eternal life. The divine plan of happiness enables family relationships to be perpetuated beyond the grave. Sacred ordinances and covenants available in holy temples make it possible for individuals to return to the presence of God and for families to be united eternally.

The first commandment that God gave to Adam and Eve pertained to their potential for parenthood as husband and wife. We declare that God's commandment for His children to multiply and replenish the earth remains in force. We further declare that God has commanded that the sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.

We declare the means by which mortal life is created to be divinely appointed. We affirm the sanctity of life and of its importance in God's eternal plan.

Husband and wife have a solemn responsibility to love and care for each other and for their children. “Children are an heritage of the Lord” (Psalm 127:3). Parents have a sacred duty to rear their children in love and righteousness, to provide for their physical and spiritual needs, and to teach them to love and serve one another, observe the commandments of God, and be law-abiding citizens wherever they live. Husbands and wives—mothers and fathers—will be held accountable before God for the discharge of these obligations.

The family is ordained of God. Marriage between man and woman is essential to His eternal plan. Children are entitled to birth within the bonds of matrimony, and to be reared by a father and a mother who honor marital vows with complete fidelity. Happiness in family life is most likely to be achieved when founded upon the teachings of the Lord Jesus Christ. Successful marriages and families are established and maintained on principles of faith, prayer, repentance, forgiveness, respect, love, compassion, work, and wholesome recreational activities. By divine design, fathers are to preside over their families in love and righteousness and are responsible to provide the necessities of life and protection for their families. Mothers are primarily responsible for the nurture of their children. In these sacred responsibilities, fathers and mothers are obligated to help one another as equal partners. Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation. Extended families should lend support when needed.

We warn that individuals who violate covenants of chastity, who abuse spouse or offspring, or who fail to fulfill family responsibilities will one day stand accountable before God. Further, we warn that the disintegration of the family will bring upon individuals, communities, and nations the calamities foretold by ancient and modern prophets.

We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society
Now, those are the foundations of our beliefs and if someone were to believe this - it is natural that they would support Prop 8 . . . not out of bigotry or narrow mindedness, but because it is the foundation of all of their beliefs. If I did not believe there was a God who created all things and created us in his image . . . (just like 99.9% of you) I would be against Prop 8. It all comes down to the foundation of our beliefs and we are all free to believe as we choose - it does not make me a bigot to believe and support what was stated above by Gordon B. Hinckley.


GC Mandrake

As a Californian, I wonder where all these celebrities were before the vote. They are just now coming out with "Prop 8 - The Musical", etc. Did they not realize the vote was LAST month? No one was vocal in their support - it was virtually silent here.

They were generally arrogant and assumed it would not pass - and are now scrambling to undo it.

(By the way, the real issue is not being discussed - that the heavy voter turnout included a huge number of African American and Hispanic voters - many of whom are religiously conservative and voted for Prop 8. I'm fairly certain gays & lesbians did not expect to be betrayed by what they no doubt considered fellow minorities!)


Number Seven:

He's proving that nearly no one today would actually want to live under the ruling of the bible, so if we pick and choose from the bible, that can't be held as a standard. And seeing as that's the only reason to ban gay marriage, there is no good reason.

No, the musical doesn't create a whole alternative ethical system on which to create our society, but so what? It makes the point of the above paragraph well enough. Sure, there might be non-religious reasons to ban gay marriage, but it can't account for every possible argument. The video appeals to values people in America have, such as Jeffersonian ideas, which can be applied consistently.

"We're just picking and choosing from other secular values." But we're not picking and choosing *whether or not to follow a principle we're intending to apply*. It's different from if, say, a religious group that thought homosexuality was sacred were arguing for separation of church and state when your religion was in question but then decided their own church should be able to lobby for laws allowing gays to have sex on your living room floor.

He shows the impossibility of referring to the bible as a standard, and then appeals to other values that Americans share. He can't justify them all the way down to the basic philosophical reasons they exist. The fact that you're ignoring the different secular reasons offered for ethical systems isn't the video's fault. Sure, we might have differing views of ethics, but using a standard that contradicts and shows no consistency in regards to *government affairs* is absurd if you want to live an actual civilization.