New Research Compares LGBT Rankings of US Metro Areas in 1990 and 2014

For Immediate Distribution
March 20, 2015

Lauren Jow,, 310-206-0314

LOS ANGELES — For two decades, residents in San Francisco, Austin, Texas, and Seattle have been among the most likely in the country to report that they are part of a same-sex couple or are LGBT, according to two new studies released today by Gallup and the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law. But growing social acceptance of LGBT people, even in conservative Utah, may explain why Salt Lake City now ranks among metro areas with the highest proportion of residents who identify as LGBT.

In the first study, Gallup ranked the 50 most populous U.S. metropolitan areas based on their percentage of LGBT residents using data collected from 2012 to 2014. The report was co-authored by Frank Newport, Gallup editor in chief, and Gary J. Gates, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute.

The top five metro areas are San Francisco (6.2%), Portland, Ore. (5.4%), Austin, Texas (5.3%), New Orleans (5.1%), and Seattle (4.8%). The five lowest-ranked metro areas are Birmingham, Ala. (2.6%), Pittsburgh (3.0%), Memphis, Tenn. (3.1%), San Jose (3.2%), and Raleigh, N.C. (3.2%).

In the second study, Gates ranked the same metro areas by the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households using 1990 Census data. The top five metro areas were San Francisco (6.5%), Austin, Texas (3.7%), Seattle (3.28%), Sacramento (3.21%), and San Diego (3.11%). The five lowest-ranked metro areas were Memphis, Tenn. (0.84%), Birmingham, Ala. (0.84%), Pittsburgh (0.78%), Richmond, Va. (0.73%), and Buffalo, N.Y. (0.64%).

“These comparisons reveal how much life for LGBT people in this country has changed in two decades,” Gates said. “Salt Lake City isn’t as different from San Francisco today as it was 20 years ago.”

Several metro areas ranked quite differently between 1990 and 2012-2014. Salt Lake City, Louisville, Ky., Norfolk, Va., New Orleans and Providence, R.I., all had substantially higher rankings in the 2012-2014 data compared to 1990. Minneapolis had the largest change in the other direction, falling from No. 7 in 1990 to No. 36 in the 2012-2014 data. Other MSAs that fell substantially were San Diego, Sacramento, Houston, and Raleigh, N.C.

Gallup interviewed more than 374,000 people between June 2012 and December 2014 as part of the Gallup Daily tracking survey, representing the largest on-going study of the distribution of the LGBT population in the U.S. on record, and the first time a study has had large enough sample sizes to provide estimates of the LGBT population by Metropolitan Statistical Area.

The 1990 Decennial Census marked the first time that it was possible to identify cohabiting same-sex couples in US Census data. These data are the earliest available to assess geographical patterns of same-sex couples, which are now shown to be similar to patterns observed in the LGBT population.

Click here for the Gallup study.

Click here for the Williams Institute study.

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