Extending Marriage to Same-Sex Couples in Rhode Island Will Have Positive Effects For Nearly 3,000 Rhode Island Families
For Immediate Distribution
March 22, 2012
Laura Rodriguez, firstname.lastname@example.org, (310) 956-2425
Jennifer Pizer, email@example.com, (213) 590-5903
Gary Gates, firstname.lastname@example.org, (310) 825-1868
Ilan Meyer, email@example.com, (310) 825-9932
M.V. Lee Badgett, firstname.lastname@example.org, (310) 904-9761
LOS ANGELES – As the Rhode Island legislature considers legalization of marriage for same-sex couples, the Williams Institute, a leading research institute on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy at the UCLA School of Law, released data today that illustrates the potential impacts of the bill. All of the data below is based on Williams Institute analyses, with the source of the data or supporting publication in parentheses.
Same-Sex Couples and Their Familes:
* There are an estimated 2,785 same-sex couples in Rhode Island. [Census 2010]
* An estimated 432 of Rhode Island’s same-sex couples are raising approximately 864 children. [Census 2010]
* Nationally, an estimated 110,000 same-sex couples are raising children, more than 200,000 in total. [Census 2010]
Marriage & Civil Unions/Domestic Partnerships:
* Approximately 50,000 same-sex couples have entered into legal marriages in the United States. [Badgett, et al., Patterns of Relationship Recognition by Same-Sex Couples in the United States (Patterns of Recognition), Williams Institute, 2011]
* Same-sex couples prefer marriage over civil unions or registered domestic partnerships, even when those non-marriage statuses extend all or almost all of the rights and obligations of marriage under state law. An average of 30% of same-sex couples married in the first year that their state allowed them to marry, while only 18% entered into a civil union or broad domestic partnership in the first year their states offered these statuses. [Patterns of Recognition]
Economic Impact of Marriage:
* Allowing same-sex couples to marry will have positive effects on the Rhode Island economy and tax revenues. Over three years, the state will garner $1.2 million. This net impact will be the result of savings in expenditures on state means-tested public benefit programs and an increase in state marriage license fees and income and sales tax revenue.
* Same-sex couples gain social support from their families and a greater level of commitment to each other when they can marry. [ Ramos, et al., The Effects of Marriage Equality in Massachusetts: A Survey of the Experiences and Impact of Marriage on Same-Sex Couples, Williams Institute, 2009]
* Although lesser forms of legal recognition for one’s same-sex relationship had positive health effects for the gay men studied, being legally married boosted emotional health to a greater extent than being in a legally recognized domestic partnership or civil union. [R. Wight, et al., Stress and Mental Health Among Midlife and Older Gay-Identified Men, American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 19, 2012]
* The stress that comes from social exclusion and stigma can lead to adverse health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicide attempts. [ Badgett, et al., Written Testimony: S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families, pages 10-12, Williams Institute, 2011]
* Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry. Governor Gregoire of Washington State signed legislation on February 13, 2012 to allow same-sex couples to marry in that state. Maryland Governor O’Malley did the same on March 1, 2012. These laws will take effect if referendum proposals now circulating in both states do not qualify for the ballot.
* Rhode Island currently allows same-sex couples to enter civil unions (as of July 1, 2011). Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois and New Jersey also have civil union laws.
* California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have state-level domestic partnership registries through which couples can assume the same obligations, rights and protections as married spouses under state law.
* Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin offer limited domestic partnership protections.