New Studies Offer Estimates of LGBT Population and Married Same-Sex Couples

For Immediate Distribution
September 29, 2014

Contact:
Laura Rodriguez, lrodriguez@rabengroup.com, (310) 956-2425
Donald Gatlin, dgatlin@rabengroup.com, (202) 587-2871

New surveys suggest that as many as 9.5 million adults in the US are LGBT

An estimated 124,000 same-sex couples are married and raising more than 30,000 children

LOS ANGELES — Two new studies released by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, review findings from four recent large, national, population-based surveys to derive estimates of the size of the LGBT community and same-sex married and unmarried couple families.  Estimates across the surveys analyzed imply that between 5.2 and 9.5 million adults in the U.S. identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT).  As of 2013, an estimated 124,000 same-sex couples were married and raising more than 30,000 children.

Authored by Williams Distinguished Scholar Gary J. Gates, PhD, the two studies are titled “LGBT Demographics: Comparisons among population-based surveys” and “LGB Families and Relationships: Analyses of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey.”  Between them, four national surveys are analyzed: 2006-2010 National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG); 2008-2012 General Social Survey (GSS); 2013 National Health Interview Survey (NHIS); 2014 Gallup Daily Tracking Survey.

Gates observes, “Courts, legislatures, and voters continue to debate high profile policy issues including marriage and parenting rights for same-sex couples along with economic and health disparities associated with discrimination and stigma toward LGBT individuals.  The availability of new data sources that include identification of LGBT respondents allows us to better inform those debates with critical information about the demographic characteristics of LGBT individuals and their families.”

Key findings from the LGBT Demographics study include:
• Estimates of the percent of adults who identified as LGB or LGBT varied across surveys from between 2.2% and 4.0%, implying that between 5.2 million and 9.5 million individuals aged 18 and older are LGBT.
— Surveys were more consistent in estimates of the percent of all adults who identified as lesbian or gay (1.4% to 1.6%) but there was variation in estimates of the proportion of bisexuals among adults (0.6% to 1.6%).

• Surveys found many demographic similarities among respondents who choose to identify as LGB or LGBT.  LGBT identity was more common among younger populations. LGBT populations generally shared the racial and ethnic characteristics of non-LGBT individuals.  Adults were more likely to identify as LGBT in the Northeast and West than in the South and Midwest.

Key findings from the study of LGB Families and Relationships include:
• In 2013, there were an estimated 690,000 same-sex couples in the US, of whom, approximately 124,000 were married.  Analyses restricted to the second half of that year, after the Supreme Court’s ruling in Windsor that brought federal recognition to married same-sex couples, suggest that the figure may be as many as 130,000 married same-sex couples.

• In the last three years, the number of married same-sex couples in the US has increased by an estimated 50%.

• Married same-sex couples lived in every region of the country.  More than 1 in 10 (12%) lived in the South.  Nearly 4 in 10 married same-sex couples (39%) live in the Northeast.

• Same-sex couples were raising an estimated 200,000 children under age 18, of whom 30,000 are being raised by married same-sex parents.  LGBT individuals who are not part of a couple are raising between 1.2 and 2 million children (depending on which estimate is used regarding the proportion of adults who are LGB or LGBT)

“LGBT Demographics: Comparisons among population-based surveys” is available here.

“LGB Families and Relationships: Analyses of the 2013 National Health Interview Survey” is available here.