Frankly, nobody knows. The prospect of lost business was raised by opponents of the constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and civil unions - and it obviously got nowhere. The amendment was approved by 20 points. Perhaps no one believes that the North Carolina economy will be adversely affected - and even if it is, perhaps they believe that the impact won't be all that great. But NYT columnist James Stewart notes the less obvious effects of living in a closed-off, intolerant community. Eventually, people begin to notice.
There is data to suggest that members of the so-called creative class, a phrase coined by Richard Florida in his 2003 book "The Rise of the Creative Class," with an updated version due out next month, are disproportionately influenced by a state's attitude on issues like same-sex marriage. This group, which Mr. Florida estimates at more than 35 million people, tends to be mobile, affluent and well educated. "These people have choices," Mr. Ellner noted, "and if you're gay and you can be married in New York or Boston, would you opt for that over North Carolina? Of course you would."
Mr. Florida, now a professor at the University of Toronto, and Mr. Gates collaborated on a 2002 study for the Brookings Institution, called "Technology and Tolerance: The Importance of Diversity to High-Technology Growth." The two concluded that "perhaps our most striking finding is that a leading indicator of a metropolitan area's high-technology success is a large gay population." They continued, "Frequently cited as a harbinger of redevelopment and gentrification in distressed urban neighborhoods, the presence of gays in a metro area signals a diverse and progressive environment." They noted that the five metro areas with the highest concentration of gay residents -- San Francisco, Washington, Austin, Atlanta and San Diego -- are among the nation's top 15 high-tech areas.
"Why the correlation? It's not that gays and lesbians equal economic growth or are more entrepreneurial," Professor Florida told me this week, "but because places that are open-minded and diverse attract people who are original thinkers, and these communities percolate with entrepreneurial and creative ideas."
Being so large and diverse, L.A.'s correlation of gay residents and technology activity may not be as obvious as, say, San Diego or Austin. But clearly there is a connection.