Census 2010 Data Shows Same-Sex Couples Identified As Spouses In Every State; First Revised Estimates Of Same-Sex Couples For Cities And Counties



Cathy Renna, 917-757-6123, cathy@rennacommunications.com; Gary Gates, 310-825-1868, gates@law.ucla.edu

LOS ANGELES, CA – October 5, 2011 – Same-sex couples identified as spouses on Census 2010 in every state, even though they can currently only marry in six states and the District of Columbia, according to reports released by the Williams Institute for all 50 states and DC. The reports are based on recently revised Census 2010 data on same-sex couples and are the only source of revised estimates of same-sex couples for cities and counties across the U.S. (the Census Bureau only revised state-level estimates)

Nationally, Census 2010 data show that nearly 132,000 (20%) of the estimated 650,000 same-sex couples in the U.S. identified as spouses and are present in every state and DC. Prior Williams Institute research shows that among couples who identified as spouse on the Census, approximately 70% said they were legally married and 15% said that they were in civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. Approximately 15% indicated they were not actually in a legally recognized relationship, but considered the terms “husband” and “wife” to be the best description of their relationship. Analyses also suggest that 4% of same-sex couples who identified as unmarried partners were legally married but did not identify as spouses since their marriage was not recognized either in their state or by the federal government.

The ten states where same-sex couples comprise the largest portion of all couples who designated themselves as spouses were all states where same-sex couples could either marry or enter into civil unions or registered domestic partnerships. Those states were DC (12.5 same-sex couples per 1,000 “husband/wife” couples), Massachusetts (7.5), Vermont (6.0), California (4.5), Connecticut, (4.0), New Hampshire, (3.7), Rhode Island (3.2), New York (3.2), Oregon (2.7), and Nevada (2.7).

Same-sex couples who identified as spouses are more likely to be raising children than other same-sex couples in every state. Nationally, almost a third (31%) of couples who identified as spouses and 14% of unmarried partners were raising children. Same-sex couples who identified as spouses were more likely to be raising children in every state.

“Same-sex couples are most likely to be raising children in socially conservative states. In these areas, lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals often face more stigma and come out later in life. As a result, many have children from different-sex relationships that they had when they were younger and before they were open or perhaps even aware of their sexual orientation,” said Williams Institute demographer Gary Gates.

The state reports released today replace similar reports issued in the summer of 2011 that relied on tabulations of same-sex couples that the Census Bureau has since revised. These new analyses use preferred estimates of same-sex couples released by the Census Bureau that are considered to be more accurate than the tabulations released in the summer. The revisions are designed to correct for difficulties in tabulations that result when some different-sex couples miscode the sex of a partner or spouse and appear to be same-sex couples. “We applaud the Census Bureau’s effort to improve its practices for counting same-sex couples, and encourage them to include questions about sexual orientation and gender identity on other federal surveys,” says Gates.

The reports are available at: https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/#mapus

The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. For more information, please visit https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu


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