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Will same-sex marriage benefit local business?

Sounds of wedding bells could soon be in the air for same sex couples waiting for a decision from the New York State legislature that would grant them the right to tie the knot.

As the heated debate continues – Queens businesses are hoping that if the legislation passes – same-sex couples will book honeymoon trips or buy rings to commemorate their new and legal union.

“If it’s going to happen, let it be for our benefit – it’s good for business,” said Harry Rutgers, manager of Bell Family Jewelers in Bayside.

Rutgers said he doesn’t expect a dramatic increase in sales, but would welcome any new business he gets if the legislation passes.

Liberty Travel in Forest Hills had a booth at the Queens Pride Parade in Jackson Heights earlier this month to attract potential customers, said Jesus Gotay, the agency’s travel consultant.

“Right now, I get calls from gay and lesbian couples booking trips to different destinations,” Gotay said. “Maybe by doing this it will open it even more.”

He said Puerto Rico was one of the most popular destinations for same-sex couples because the commonwealth has a gay nightlife scene and travelers don’t need a passport to get there.

If the legislation passes, same-sex couples might also be more comfortable coming into the office to book their trips together. Gotay said he noticed some awkwardness when they come into his travel agency to plan trips.

Openly-gay Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer said he expected a “flurry of engagements and proposals” that can only be good for the borough’s restaurants, florists and catering facilities.

“You will see an economic benefit to this as well,” he said.

Instead of traveling to other states such as Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont or Washington, D.C. to get married, many same-sex Queens couples want to wait for their right to do it in their home state, Van Bramer said.

The New York State Senate continued to debate whether to bring the legislation to a vote as of press time. With a total of 31 members in support – 29 Democrats and two Republicans – the measure needs one vote to pass the 62-member senate.

Though the legislative session ended on Monday, June 20, lawmakers have been busy with negotiations over the renewal of rent regulation laws and a cap on property taxes, and have not decided to vote on the same-sex marriage legislation.

They expect to be in Albany for the rest of the week.

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