“Hey, sweetheart, let’s move to Virginia and make a life for ourselves there free of intolerance and inequality,” said no gay couple ever. Or at least, that’s what an effete writer working for a New York publication long-entwined with the city’s gay community might assume.
You see, there’s an odd geography problem here that our Federalist system produces: Before yesterday’s overturning of DOMA, that act’s restrictions, coupled with the inconsistent patchwork of anti-discrimination laws state-to-state, would make any gay couple with a brain cell between them stay away from states that, shall we say, didn’t have their best interests at heart.
But now that DOMA is history, married gay and lesbian couples now have access to one of marriage’s most coveted perks–those fast little breaks in income and housing taxation. With full marriage rights, gay couples can start making bigger and better decisions about how they want to spend their money and where they want to settle down.
“There are a lot of people who weren’t sure of their property rights,” says Jeff Berger, founder of the National Association of Gay and Lesbian Real Estate Professionals. “More people are going to be co-habitating [now]. It will be more economically feasible.”
That doesn’t mean they’ll all be flocking to New York. Remember, this is still the most expensive housing market in the country. While being married might dull the pain of the city’s famously high property taxes, only the well-heeled among us could casually buy a place in Greenwich Village or Chelsea, gay or not. (Though we’ve known for a long time that where gays go, inflated property values are sure to follow.)
In fact, same-sex couples are frequently looking to buy outside the now 14 jurisdictions where gay marriage is legal. Hotspots include Kansas City, Atlanta, and southern Florida.
And with the general uptick in the housing market, all that pent-up demand is bound to take homebuyers farther and farther away from traditionally gay urban epicenters. One really popular destination? Virginia. (As a native/escapee of the Virginia suburbs, this was news to me.)
Despite the virulent homophobes currently running its government, buyers are attracted by nearby D.C., where gay marriage has been legal since 2009, and, according to Berger, the state’s “natural beauty” (also news to me).
But outside the legal complications of being gay and married, the things same-sex couples look for in a place to live are, surprise, pretty much the same as straight couples: walkability, proximity to arts institutions, and now, with more and more same-sex couples rearing children, quality local schools matter, too.
Something tells me, though, a Roanoke, Virginia, Pride Parade is still a long way off.
Update: A reader has informed us that Roanoke, Virginia, indeed already has a pride celebration called “Pride in the Park.” Virginia, full of surprises!