UCLA’s Williams Institute Estimates That More Than 11,000 Same-Sex Couples Have Married In California
New Studies Show That 109,000 Same-Sex Couples In California Are Raising More Than 52,000 Children; Those Registered As Domestic Partners Have Been Together More Than Ten Years
New research from the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law finds that an estimated 11,000 same-sex couples have married in California in the first three months since such marriages were made legal in the state. Five counties account for nearly 80% of the estimated 11,000 same-sex couples: Los Angeles (2,719), San Francisco (2,708), San Diego (1,689), Riverside (1,247), and Alameda (475). These are all counties known to have large and visible lesbian and gay populations and are also attractive tourist destinations for both in- and out-of-state weddings.
Williams Institute scholars have also published three new research studies providing demographic and economic information for the 109,000 same-sex couples in California. The first study, an analysis of recent data from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, shows that nearly 25% of same-sex couples in California are raising more than 52,000 children.
A second study published in the journal Demography breaks new ground with the first analyses of partnership and cohabitation rates among self-identified lesbians and gay men using large, population-based data samples. “Clearly, same-sex couples who seek legal recognition are in enduring relationships,” said Gary Gates, Senior Research Fellow at the Williams Institute and co-author of all three studies. While lesbians are more likely to be in a cohabiting partnership than are gay men, gay men nonetheless have longer duration relationships, especially those who have sought official registration, 12 years average duration for gay men compared to 9 years for lesbians.
The third study, published in the journal Review of Economics of the Household, reveals that the usual predictors of marriage, economic factors like education and income, do not have as strong an impact in predicting which lesbian and gay couples will seek registered domestic partnership. Williams Institute Research Director Lee Badgett comments, “Domestic partnership is simply not marriage. The fact that same-sex couples do not respond to this status like heterosexuals respond to marriage may indicate the lesser economic and cultural value associated with registered domestic partnership.”
The full reports can be accessed here
OTHER KEY FINDINGS INCLUDE:
- In 2000, there were just over 90,000 same-sex couples living in California; the number of same-sex couples has increased to 109,000.
- There are 861,000 lesbian, gay, and bisexual adults living in California.
- At 14%, California is home to the largest percentage of the nation’s same-sex couples.
- Same-sex couples live in every county in California, constituting 9 of every 1,000 households. San Francisco has the highest percentage of lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals at 14%, followed by Humbolt (5.6%), Lake (5%), Santa Cruz (5%), and Sacramento (4.3%).
- California’s same-sex couples are as racially and ethnically diverse as their different-sex married counterparts: 37% of same-sex couples are nonwhite, with Latino/as making up a quarter of the state’s same-sex couples.
SAME-SEX HOUSEHOLDS RAISING CHILDREN HAVE FEWER ECONOMIC RESOURCES THAN MARRIED HOUSEHOLDS IN CALIFORNIA
- Same-sex parents have fewer financial resources to support their children than married parents. The median household income of same-sex couples with children is $68,000, or 10% lower than that of married parents ($75,400).
- While 53% of same-sex couples with children own a home, a much larger percentage of married parents (68%) own a home.
SAME-SEX COUPLES IN CALIFORNIA HAVE ENDURING RELATIONSHIPS; LESBIANS MORE LIKELY THAN GAY MEN TO REGISTER AS DOMESTIC PARTNERS
- More than half of lesbians in California are in a cohabiting partnership compared to approximately 40% of gay men.
- Gay men have longer duration relationships than lesbians, especially those who have sought official registration, 12 years average duration for gay men compared to 9 years for lesbians.
OLDER LESBIANS MORE LIKELY TO REGISTER AS DOMESTIC PARTNERS IN CALIFORNIA; WHILE MEN WITH HIGHER INCOMES ARE MORE LIKELY TO REGISTER
- Longer relationship duration increases the likelihood of being registered for both male and female couples, suggesting that these long established couples see a clear value in the specific legal and economic benefits that only a formalized status can provide.
- While economic factors like education and income are strong predictors of marriage for heterosexual couples, these factors do not have as strong an impact in predicting which lesbian and gay couples will seek registered partnership. The most direct economic measure—income—appears to matter only for men, with higher incomes increasing the probability of registration.
- Older women are more likely to be domestic partners than are young women, perhaps because they have more assets to protect or feel more vulnerable to illness or death compared with younger women.
The Williams Institute for Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public.
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