censussing out

30% of America’s Gays Are Married (Or Married-Ish). Not That Their States Recognize It

How excited WERE YOU when you found out that, for the first time, those door-knockers counting everyone up for the U.S. Census were going to include data on same-sex couples? Well, then you found out it wasn’t really a perfect system, and the gays wouldn’t exactly be totally on the radar. And now the hard(ish) data: One in seven of gay couples won’t be identified as such. But that doesn’t mean we don’t know how many of you are living under the same roof. Big brother knows all!

A stunning 99 percent of America’s homos participated in this year’s census, claims UCLA Law’s Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy (compared to just 1 in 7 households on average). But because of the way they filled it out, some 15 percent won’t be recorded as such.

Same-sex couples are identified in Census data when one partner is “Person 1” in a household and designates the other as a husband, wife, or an unmarried partner. The survey found that 1 in 10 individuals in same-sex couples opted to identify as roommates on their Census forms. An additional 5% of couples are not identified because they live in a household where neither partner is Person 1.

Respondents who used terms other than spouse or unmarried partner cited three main reasons for their decision. About a third said that they just thought of their relationship in some other way, a quarter cited confidentiality concerns about disclosing their relationship, and a third were protesting either because they opposed the fact that the Census was not asking a sexual orientation or gender identity question or they were offended by the options presented.

But according to the Williams Institute’s own survey, “30% of same-sex couples are either married (14%) or in a civil union or registered domestic partnership (15%). More than 4 in 10 of those couples in legal relationships do not live in states that recognize their marriage, civil union, or domestic partnership.” And: “More than 3% of individuals in same-sex couples indicated that they were transgender or had a transgender partner. Of that group, 55% said that they were either married or in a civil union or registered domestic partnership compared to only 28% of non-transgender respondents.” Oh, plus: “Nearly all married couples who selected unmarried partner to describe their relationship said that they did so because either the federal or state government does not recognize their marriage.”

Way to let the government define your relationship, pals!


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