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A border battle brewing for the gay-marriage dollar?


Since 2009, Iowa has enjoyed a certain status as the only Midwestern state to allow same-sex marriages. Now, with the Minnesota law legalizing gay marriage set to go into effect Aug. 1, both states are gearing up for expected changes in their respective economies.

If those changes do materialize. The Associated Press takes a look at the potential impact on each state, concluding (not very helpfully, alas) that "how this shift will impact the Iowa wedding industry is hard to predict."

But the story does good digging on the numbers. Iowa was the 3rd state in the nation to legalize same-sex marriages; Minnesota is the 12th.

One institute study says $12 million was spent on gay weddings and related tourism in Iowa during the first year it was available. An estimated $4.6 million of that was generated by out-of-state couples. Of the 1,302 same-sex weddings in Iowa in 2011 -- the most recent year with data available -- 955 were couples that reside outside the state, according to state data.

St. Paul Mayor Chris Coleman sees the economic benefit, saying, "Weddings are a good business."

As for competition between the states, that's a little harder to discern. One prominent Iowa gay activist doesn't think Minnesota's law will affect the Iowa gay economy that much.

But the AP concludes that some Minnesota destinations want in on the action, and promotion is in motion.

"We're Midwesterners, " says Adam Johnson, vice president of visit St. Paul. "It's all friendly competition."

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