The newest mantra of the gay rights opponent is that society cannot afford to grant gay men and lesbians equal rights and that legislators who back the measures are economically “irresponsible.”

In Colorado, where a state Senate panel is set to consider Democratic Senator Jennifer Veiga's bill that would extend health benefits to the gay spouses of state employees, opponents have labeled the measure unaffordable.

“Coloradans can't afford this social experiment. ... Let them [Senators] know it is not okay to use our tax dollars in such an irresponsible way,” a Focus on the Family radio spot says.

Opponents to a gay marriage bill about to be debated in the Rhode Island Senate say lawmakers need to wrangle the budget first.

“These are the same legislatures who don't have time to balance our budget, to restrain out-of-control spending, or come to some kind of agreement on immigration, but they have time to mess with gay marriage?” a female announcer says in a National Organization for Marriage Rhode Island (NOM) radio ad.

And in a Citizen Link interview, Jenny Tyree, marriage analyst at the Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family Action, clearly linked gay marriage to the prosperity of the nation.

“These [gay marriage/civil union] bills are advanced to promote an agenda that ignores the stabilizing influence of marriage for children, adults and our economy,” she said.

“Our country is in a period of economic uncertainty, and people should contact their state legislators and urge them to promote family and societal stability.”

But a newly released economic study on the benefits of gay unions disagrees.

In a report titled The Economic Impact of Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Maine, the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law concludes that extending marriage to gay couples would boost Maine's economy. The same think tank concluded that gay marriage in California could be worth as much as $64 million over three years.

The report said: “Throughout this report, we estimate the economic impact of weddings conservatively. ... We find that the effect of allowing same-sex couples to marry in Maine is a gain of approximately $60 million to Maine's businesses and workers, and $3.6 million in state and local government revenues over the next three years.”