Several months ago, I wrote about the economic opportunities that gay marriage could provide to Nevada. Now, websites promote all that Las Vegas has to offer gay couples who are set to take advantage of the rapid march to marriage equality.
The irony is that while gay travelers love Nevada and the people of the state not only accept but embrace diversity, our main urban centers of Reno and Las Vegas recently received a relatively poor report card from the Human Rights Campaign’s Municipal Equality Index. While Nevada’s RFRA (Religious Freedom Restoration Act) never made it out of committee, Indianapolis (the epicenter of the “religious freedom” debate) has a higher score than any city in Nevada. The International Trade Forum magazine describes tourism as a perishable commodity,, adding that, “a tourist bed unfilled represents revenue lost forever.” Given that perishability and the economic benefits tourism brings to the state, our leaders should give every indication that Nevada is open for business, for everyone.
Although it was framed as mitigating, Forbes Magazine states that, “about one in three gay travelers avoid destinations based upon perceived prejudices.” As since so much in Nevada depends on tourism, perception is paramount. The industry in Nevada is massive, pumping 58 billion dollars into the state’s economy and employing almost half a million people. Raising our Municipal Index Score is a good way to leverage the gay communities $800bn buying power.
As same-sex marriage is being debated in the Supreme Court, gay rights–not just gay marriage–are atop the national agenda. Nevada ought to show we embrace diversity in our statutes, as well as our attitudes. With companies like Amazon, Switch, and Tesla having invested in Nevada and a resurgence in construction, Nevada is poised to rebound from the Great Recession. Moving forward, we have a choice: either continue to attract diverse workers, businesses and tourists or be left out of the inclusive economy of the future.