A gay couple dance at their wedding
Posed by models (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new survey from the US Census Bureau looks at the similarities and differences between same-sex and opposite-sex married couples.

Massachusetts was the first state to recognize same-sex unions in 2003. Several states followed. However, it was the SCOTUS ruling in 2015 that made same-sex marriage legal across the US.

There are now around 1.5 million people in same-sex marriages within the US. Just over 40% of these married in the four years after the ruling, compared with 14% of those in opposite-sex marriages.

This new analysis of data. says people in same-sex marriages tend to be, on average, slightly younger.

“About 41 percent of men and 51 percent of women in same-sex marriages were younger than 45 years old, compared to about 32 percent of men and 36 percent of women in opposite-sex marriages.”

Regarding ethnicity, the number of white-alone and black-alone couples was similar between gay and straight couples. However, there were fewer Asian-alone same-sex couples.

More same-sex couples were interracial. Approximately 31% of married same-sex couples were interracial in 2022, which is significantly higher than the 19% of married opposite-sex couples that were interracial.

People in same-sex marriages tended to have a higher level of education. “More than half (about 53 percent) of adults with a same-sex spouse had a bachelor’s degree or higher, compared to about 41 percent of those with an opposite-sex spouse.”

This is not surprising given other studies that have found gay people are often more likely to go to college. This may be due to a desire to escape conservative small towns for bigger cities. Or a possible desire to excel at school to secure parental approval.

Differences lessening since SCOTUS ruling

In terms of employment, it was more common for both partners in same-sex (62%) than in opposite-sex (49%) households to be employed. This could be related to the fact gay couples are likely to be a little younger, and that gay men are less likely to need to stay home for childcare reasons.

However, the data also highlighted that the observed differences lessened when you looked at same-sex couples who married before the 2015 SCOTUS ruling and those who married after. In other words, same-sex and opposite-sex couples are becoming more alike.

Some differences were not surprising. For example, opposite-sex couples are far more likely to have children. Among same-sex couples, female couples are also more likely to have kids than male couples.

Gay male couples tended, on average, to be economically better off than female-only couples and opposite-sex couples. Again, this is likely due to gay guys being less likely to have kids, having a better level of education, and the gender pay gap that still has not been eradicated.

Interestingly, the number of same-sex married couples who also lived with roommates was four times as high as opposite-sex married couples.

The analysis concludes, “The number of same-sex married couple households more than doubled between 2014 and 2022, resulting in nearly 1.5 million adults living with a same-sex spouse. Generally, same-sex spouses and their households resemble those in opposite-sex couples.”

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