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Same-Sex Couples in America

How many married couples are there?
  • May 14 2012

President Obama’s support for same-sex marriage has brought the debate about gay marriage front and center. How many married same-sex couples are there in the U.S. today? The Census Bureau has some figures.

Based on the latest household numbers released this past April, there were 646,464 same-sex couples in the U.S. in 2010. Of those, 131,729 were identified as “married.” The Census data makes it a point to note that it did not verify whether same-sex couples were legally married, but relied on respondents’ voluntary reporting of their gender and their relationship to the people with whom they live.

The number of same-sex couples in the U.S. grew more than 80 percent since 2000, when there were 358,390 households in that category. Since that time, six states—Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York and Vermont—plus the District of Columbia began granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Interestingly, the state with the highest number of same-sex married couples was California, which had 28,312, but doesn’t currently recognize same-sex marriage. Before California voters passed Proposition 8 banning gay marriage in November 2008, same-sex couples were allowed to wed in the state on a number of occasions, including in the summer of 2008, when about 18,000 same-sex couples were legally married,

The latest household numbers from the census also show that regionally, same-sex unmarried partner households were most common in the West and least common in the Midwest. Of all areas, Washington, D.C. had the highest percentage of same-sex unmarried households—they accounted for 1.8 percent of all households.

Among states, the highest proportions of same-sex households were found in Delaware, Massachusetts and Vermont on the east coast and California and Oregon on the West Coast. The lowest percentages were in North Dakota and South Dakota.

'The Census data also showed that same-sex couples are more likely than their different-sex counterparts to be interracial or interethnic and couples that include a racial or ethnic minority are more likely to be raising children. Fully a third of same-sex couples that include a Hispanic partner are raising children, according to analysis of the data by UCLA Law School’s Williams Institute.

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