Why The 2010 Census’ Count Of Same-Sex Couples Isn’t At All Accurate

Revised estimates of the 2010 Census report 131,729 same-sex married couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the United States. But researchers say that these numbers could be off by as much as 15 percent. What gives?

The Sacramento Bee explains:

“… researchers believe the new estimate could be as much as 15 percent lower than the actual number of gay couples in the U.S. because of social stigma, discrimination or other concerns about confidentiality. In a small number of cases, younger gay couples also may not have been counted in the census if they were “doubling up” in a home where neither was the head of household…

Still, because the census forms do not ask about sexual orientation, some activists have complained that single gays—as opposed to those with live-in spouses and partners—have no means of gaining collective representation through the census.”

It’s at least good to know the number of the same-sex couples who feel safe enough to declare their unions. Now only if they would stop hounding us for wedding gifts.

Image via jennaddenda

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  • Cam

    Ok, how funny is that, all of the anti-gay bigots who claim that gays make up less than 1% of the population….well funny then that over .5% of the nation admitted on a govt document that they are in a couple.

    That doesn’t count the people in areas and jobs who don’t want to put that down, and the huge number of single gays.

    So when the total number of gays they CLAIM exist is already surpassed by the number in committed relationships, I guess ANOTHER of their lies is laid out for all to see.

  • Fodolodo

    While the undercount factor is considerable, there is also an overcount. Some small percentage of opposite-sex couples accidentally mislabel themselves as same-sex couples, and because there are so many more opposite-sex couples than same-sex couples, this serves to inflate the total.

    The Williams Institute’s census analyses adjust for this fact. For calculating the national total of same-sex couples, they assume, based on some previous scholarship, that the two effects roughly cancel each other out, so the census’s total is an okay estimate of the real total number.

  • Fodolodo

    I was silly and didn’t read the article prior to posting that. The US Census estimate the article references corrects for the overcount but not for the undercount, so, as the article suggests, it is almost certainly an underestimate.

  • ron

    1.3 million Americans claim on the 2010 census that they are in a same sex relationship.
    Lets add another 500,000 for undercounting.
    And add a couple of million more single gays.

    Grand total 3.8 million gays in America.

    Out of 312 million Americans, the percentage of gays is…..1.2%

    Even adding another couple million hypothetical gays brings the percentage to 1.9%

    Bottom line – the activist claim of 10% of society being gay is a lie.

  • Rainfish

    @ron: Hey, why just “add a couple of million more single gays”. Not very scientific is it? Somewhat arbitrary of you to just “add a couple of million more single gays”. How about adding ten million single gay men and lesbians or twenty million more? Why less? It would be just legitimate to do so as your methodology which arbitrarily assigns some smaller made-up number pulled out of the air or from some other vacuous place.

    The fact of the matter is that the 2010 US Census refused to count single Gays and Lesbians, so the US Census is woefully incorrect, irrelevant, and devoid of any real legitimacy on its very face. Using your words, “Bottom line – the activist claim of 10% of society being gay is a lie” just like the LIE from anti-gay activists who claim the GLBT population is less than 10% of the population. Give us an accurate count where ALL in the GLBT community are counted.

    Someday, when we finally live in a truly decent country which doesn’t force fellow citizens into the shadows and treat them like a political football to be kicked around, we might get a more “accurate” count of the real American population in all of its diversity.

    By the way, a similar study in Great Britain put the gay population there at around 7%. Even considering the fluidity of human sexuality, the 10% figure of predominate homosexual orientation seems more reasonable than the ridiculously arbitrary incomplete data gathered by the 2010 hetero-biased American census. Not only that, but how accurate can a census be when gathering it may give the impression to many GLBTs that the very government, which has an official policy of oppression and persecution of gays, may use that data to harm them at some future date, if the political winds change direction? Rightly or wrongly, many people do not believe that the census is completely confidential.

    Some in the GLBT community, who with justifiable mistrust of the United States, might recall the government census the National Socialist Party conducted in 1930s Germany in order to ferret out Jewish citizens, and we all know how that turned out. By the way, the Jewish population only makes up about 2% of the population in America, yet we don’t recall their small numbers being used presently to rationalize depriving them of their equal rights of citizenship. I smell a pseudo-Christian fascist skunk amongst those trying to undercount the GLBT population for political purposes and then waving those skewed figures like a victory flag. We should all be ever vigilant of those homophobic reprobates among us — at all levels in society, in and out of government.

  • FYI

    Gary Gates is demographer-in-residence at the Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles whose research is noted in the following article on the Huffington Post comes up with an even different conclusion:

    “Gates’ best estimate, derived from five studies that have asked subjects about their sexual orientation, is that the nation has about 4 million adults who identify as being gay or lesbian, representing 1.7 percent of the 18-and-over population.

    Gates found, for example, that another 1.8 percent of the adult population, or a little more than 4 million Americans, identifies as bisexual, according to his research brief published Thursday by the Williams Institute.

    He also estimated that 19 million people, or 8.2 percent of the population, have engaged in sex with a partner of the same sex. That includes all groups, such as gays, bisexuals and heterosexuals who have experimented with same-sex behavior.

    Another two studies, conducted by state agencies in California and Massachusetts, yielded what Gates thinks is the first credible estimate of the nation’s transgender population. He puts it at about 700,000 adults, or 0.3 percent of the population.”

    Reference: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/07/gay-population-us-estimate_n_846348.html

  • FYI

    @ron: By the way, Ron, the real “liars” are the homophobic assholes who try to under count the GLBT population.

  • Jim Hlavac

    @ron: Um, sir, no “activist” has claimed 10% is gay for more than 30 years. Which activist might you be referring to? You? It is you who are claiming 10% and then calling it a lie.

    And, sir, you surely don’t think that more than 50% of gay folks are in couples do you? Are you that obtuse? The more accepted number is roughly 5% of the population — and don’t forget the kids, we were all kids, I was a gay kid, but oh, no, no one wants to even consider counting the kids as gay yet, though the little sissies are still being pulverized across the nation. And so we can safely conclude that are roughly 15,000,000 to 20,000,000 gay folks in this nation. And that’s not counting the bisexuals and the trans.

    And as for the Gate’s count, he’s so off it’s pathetic; indeed, for him to get so specific as “2,491,034” is preposterous (that number just sticks in my head, every time I see a “count.”) Here’s a quick way to look at it — there are 2,500 gay bars, and another 2,500 gay businesses, gyms, etc — and if each has just 200 people a day pass through, on say Friday, that is 500,000 people for the bars, 500,000 for the other places, or 1,000,000 people. And on Saturday another 1,000,000 — and on Sunday, another 1,000,000, and well, that would exhaust nearly every gay person in Gate’s nation. Meanwhile, every day of the week, each a different 1,000,000 — or 7,000,000 a week — who the hell is in all the gay bars the rest of the month? How on earth could we possibly be out so much? Don’t we have jobs? I rarely see the same people out; but entirely new faces. Bah, this ain’t the place, but even the Wall Street Journal said his numbers were questionable. Gates just took five old phone surveys and sought a grant to pay himself for a “new” study. Poppycock and mush.

  • the crustybastard


    I have searched the Constitution in vain to find what critical mass a minority must meet whereby they qualify for fundamental, civil and Constitutional rights.

    Surely you must know this mystery percentage, being as it is central to your belief the LGBT minority is to miniscule to qualify. Do share!

    And don’t neglect to provide links to all the laws that create this official “qualifying minority” baseline.

  • Caliban

    The 10% figure is from Kinsey’s research but he never stated that 10% of the population was exclusively homosexual. What Kinsey’s research reported was that 10% of the adult male population would engage in homosexual activity to a significant degree during their lifetime. If you’ve ever spent more than 5 minutes on any gay “dating” site you know a fair number of men advertising for hook-ups on them are married or in relationships with women.

    Further, you can see on the internet that there are those who split hairs to an amazing degree, insisting they are NOT “gay,” but “men who have sex with men” or some similar semantic dodge. “Gay” has come to have a specific, pejorative meaning for some people other than just desiring sexual and affectional relationships with people of their same gender. For some it means rainbow-flag-waving, drag-queen-appreciating, Liza-Barbra-Madonna loving, gay-bar-attending, Manhunt-dick-seeking stereotypical behavior. For them “gay” has a very narrow definition and they don’t embrace it. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t out there sucking dick or whatever, no matter how they define themselves.

  • Steve

    The census numbers (of same-sex couples) are clearly wrong, for a variety of reasons. However, there is also little or no point in arguing over the actual correct numbers. The information that would be needed to actually settle the question is simply not available.

    Over time, there will be less incentive to miscount, and so future censii will be less inaccurate. For now, the census numbers are what they are — the best counts that are actually available at this time. We all know those counts are low. We just cannot know by how much.

Comments are closed.