Marriage for Same-Sex Couples

The Williams Institute has conducted an extensive amount of research on same-sex couples living in the United States.

Significant findings include:

Same-sex couples per 1,000 households, by county (adjusted)

● Same-sex couples live in every congressional district and in almost every county in the United States.

● There are 646,464 same-sex couples in the United States.

● Approximately 20% of same-sex couples are raising nearly 250,000 children.

● Almost one-fourth of same-sex partners are people of color; over 7% of individuals in same-sex couples are veterans of the U.S. armed forces.

● Over 140,000 same-sex couples have formalized their relationship under state law in the United States. Nearly 50,000 same-sex couples have married.

● Same-sex couples prefer marriage over other non-marital legal relationship statuses. Same-sex couples marry at higher rates in the first year if they have the option than we see in civil union states.

● Same-sex couples value marriage more for its social meaning than for its practical benefits.

● When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, couples will travel to that state to marry from other states in which they do not enjoy that same opportunity.

● There are an estimated 28,500 binational same-sex couples in which one partner is a U.S. citizen and one is not, and nearly 11,500 same-sex couples in which neither partner is a U.S. citizen.

● Under U.S. immigration policy, a citizen may obtain permanent residence for their non-citizen, different-sex spouse, and expedited citizenship for a resident, different-sex spouse. Permanent residents may also petition for permanent resident status for their different-sex spouses.   However, these options are not extended to same-sex couples, even if they are married or are in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships.

● Same-sex binational couples are present in all parts of the country and represent a diverse group of individuals from around the world. Among the 28,000 bi-national couples, over 7,100 live in California, which is more than any other state. The countries most represented among these couples are Mexico (25%), Canada (8%), and the United Kingdom (6%).

● The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has serious financial, legal, social and health consequences for same-sex couples and their families.

Related Studies:

Patterns of relationship recognition by same-sex couples in the United States (November 2011)

Same-sex Couples and Immigration in the United States (November 2011)

United States Census Snapshots: 2010 (September 2011)

Written Testimony: S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families (July 2011)

Spending on Weddings of Same-Sex Couples in the United States (July 2011)

The Economic Value of Marriage for Same-Sex Couples (October 2010)