August 27, 2011

IconUS census records dramatic increase in gay couples

The number of US census respondents who describe themselves as being in a same-sex relationship has risen by 52% in the last decade.

901,997 respondents said that they were living with or married to a same-sex partner in the 2010 census, compared to 594,391 in 2000.

The national questionnaire did not ask individuals whether they identified as lesbian, gay or bisexual, meaning that there is no figure for overall sexual orientation.

Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at the University of California argued that the increase was probably the result of greater openness amongst lesbian and gay couples. “The increase is too big to be explained by a sudden jump in coupling among gay people,” he said.

The most dramatic increase in partnerships was recorded in the thinly populated states of Montana, Nevada, and West Virgina, with the number of self-identified gay couples rising by nearly 90% in these areas.

In contrast, the more densely populated District of Columbia, California and New York saw smaller increases of 40% or less.

“What it tells you is that social acceptance of same-sex couples is moving beyond the coasts,” explained Gates.

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Ruth Pearce


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