This year is an exciting one for my family and me.  Last December, on a ski-slope, my little sister’s boyfriend got down on one knee and asked her to marry him.
I was thrilled when I heard the news. He is a fantastic person, and my sister has never been happier. The nuptials will take place in August.
As a bridesmaid, I have been getting excited with her in choosing a ring, picking out a gown, and discussing everything from who the celebrant will be to whether to serve salmon or prosciutto for hors d’oeuvres.
I am responsible for getting dresses, planning a hens’ weekend, and organising the gift registry.
As we’ve been trying on dresses in bridal shop after bridal shop, and scouring Bride, Modern Bride, Bride and Bloom, I have been shocked by the sheer size of the budgetary implications of weddings. According to a 2008 survey by Bride to Be magazine, the average (yes, the average) cost of a wedding in Australia is now $49,202.
In these times of economic doom and gloom, imagine how much money would be injected into the hospitality, retail, catering, tourism, fashion, photography, hairdressing and make-up artistry industries, to name a few, if gays and lesbians were allowed to get married.
Let’s face it, many in our community have a tendency not to skimp when it comes to celebrations.
If politicians aren’t persuaded by the arguments for equality, then perhaps they might want to give some thought to the business case.  At a minimum there are 20,000 same-sex couples in Australia. If only a quarter got married, that’s over $246 million right there.
So as I stand by my sister as she ties the knot in August, I’ll shed a tear of joy, a tear of sadness when I hear that -˜a marriage is between a man and a woman to the exclusion of all others’, and I’ll let out a little chuckle about our grand plan to save the economy.

Emily Gray is convenor of the Gay and Lesbian Rights Lobby.

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