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August 30, 2011 8:04 AM   Subscribe

The Williams Institute at UCLA has recently completed an analysis of same-sex couples' distribution, as reported by the U.S. Census. The Big Find: over 900,000 self-identified couples, 22% of whom are raising children. Profiles for individual states, plus D.C. (72% male) and Puerto Rico (70% female). via MetroWeekly. Previously, Queering the Census.
posted by psoas (59 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
We're just roommates.
posted by yesster at 8:17 AM on August 30, 2011


On the other hand, the rate of divorce among same-sex couples remains close to zero.
posted by three blind mice at 8:20 AM on August 30, 2011


Interesting number crunching. Yay!
posted by rmd1023 at 8:30 AM on August 30, 2011


Northern Wisconsin?
posted by Dia Nomou Nomo Apethanon at 8:35 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I did like the "Top 5 Counties" list for RI, which has... 5 counties.

I did not like the male and female distribution maps that used different scales, making them pretty much impossible to compare. I was relieved to know that there are very few same-sex couples in the waters surround Block Island. I hope we would have rescued them by now....
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:45 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


I was relieved to know that there are very few same-sex couples in the waters surround Block Island.

I am disgusted that you oppose the right of mermen to wed other mermen.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 8:47 AM on August 30, 2011 [11 favorites]


I am disgusted that you oppose the right of mermen to wed other mermen.

Merpersons. Let's not be sexist.
posted by Nomyte at 8:49 AM on August 30, 2011 [6 favorites]


I am disgusted that you oppose the right of mermen to wed other mermen.

The merpeople, of any gender affectionalism, are not allowed to be residents of RI until they stop luring sailors to their doom. This may seem harsh, but it is necessary for the maintenance of interstate trade and tourism.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:50 AM on August 30, 2011 [21 favorites]


New Deportation Rules Give Boost To Gay Rights: "Thousands of same-sex married couples now have hopes of staying together in the U.S. thanks to a change in deportation policy. The government says it will now prioritize deportations, giving lower priority to those with families in the U.S. And the Obama administration has included same-sex couples in its definition of family."
posted by homunculus at 8:58 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


"Thousands of same-sex married couples now have hopes of staying together in the U.S. thanks to a change in deportation policy. The government says it will now prioritize deportations, giving lower priority to those with families in the U.S. And the Obama administration has included same-sex couples in its definition of family."

Keyword there is 'hopes'. Prosecutorial discretion is nice and all, but you can hardly expect it to be evenly applied. In other words, you might get lucky and not have your relationship broken up by ICE immediately, you'll just in constant fear that they'll have some free time.
posted by Garm at 9:05 AM on August 30, 2011


OH MY GOD! THEY'RE EVERYWHERE!
posted by Panjandrum at 9:08 AM on August 30, 2011


I found it fascinating that the highest rates of same-sex couples raising children, in my state, were all in very rural areas.

There turn out to be surprising numbers of same-sex couples in Lake Erie, though.
posted by gracedissolved at 9:11 AM on August 30, 2011


I did like the "Top 5 Counties" list for RI, which has... 5 counties.

Then you'll really love Hawaii and Delaware.
posted by psoas at 9:13 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]



I found it fascinating that the highest rates of same-sex couples raising children, in my state, were all in very rural areas.


I said this years ago
posted by The Whelk at 9:14 AM on August 30, 2011


Probably lots of people are already thinking about this, but the nature of how these things are self-reported is likely to have all kinds of effects on the numbers here.

It's almost certain that there are actually a good deal more same sex couples than reported. I would suspect the proportion of these who are raising children is lower than currently reported on the assumption that couples who have gone to the "raising children" level of commitment are more likely to report themselves on the census as a couple.
posted by Winnemac at 9:16 AM on August 30, 2011


I found it fascinating that the highest rates of same-sex couples raising children, in my state, were all in very rural areas.

I haven't looked at the data, but it's possible that the lowest rates of same-sex couples raising children are also in very rural areas. Statistically, Weird Shit Happens in small populations much more easily than it does in large populations.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:17 AM on August 30, 2011


I was working on some legislation in a rust belt city on LGBT issues. The Williams Institute was the single most helpful resource for me. Using their data I was able to anticipate all the opposition the resolution would receive and counter it with facts. Those against it could not cry about budgetary impact and were left with naked bigotry, which was especially satisfying when two of those opposed were closeted men who would protest the too much with any such resolution.

So, I love the Williams Institute with all my heart for 1) helping win the good fight 2) letting my petty, vindictive self feel the satisfaction of watching my enemies squirm in a public forum.
posted by munchingzombie at 9:22 AM on August 30, 2011 [14 favorites]


After looking at the data, I would like to retract my previous comment.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:23 AM on August 30, 2011


The map of DC is particularly interesting: same-sex male couples tend to live closer to downtown, same-sex female couples tend to live further out. I don't think this is something special about DC, but in other states the maps by sex are broken down by county but for DC they do it by census tract.
posted by madcaptenor at 9:30 AM on August 30, 2011


madcap: I imagine this overlaps with differences in earning power--male couples are more likely able to afford to live in dense urban areas and less likely to be raising kids. Also, D.C. is the sole urban-only jurisdiction at the national level and none of the states (that I've seen yet) appear to have a majority of male couples.
posted by psoas at 9:34 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yeah it'd be great if they broke this out by census track for all counties.

Mapping America does it but I'm not sure how accurate it is.
posted by Defenestrator at 9:36 AM on August 30, 2011


Note this is all based on US Census data. I don't have any better source of demographic data on US households, but there's lots of reasons to think the US Census miscounts gay and lesbian families.
posted by Nelson at 9:37 AM on August 30, 2011


The Dupont Circle/Logan Circle areas are also the age-old gay (male) neighborhood in DC (Cap Hill, too, I suppose).
posted by rtha at 9:38 AM on August 30, 2011


I found it fascinating that the highest rates of same-sex couples raising children, in my state, were all in very rural areas.

I'm guessing that the rates of couples (same-sex or opposite-sex) raising children are higher in rural areas.

On the other hand, when I looked at the data for the state I grew up in (NC) it turned the highest counties for same-sex child rearing was bizarre mixture of urban(the Charlotte area) and insanely rural (Sampson County? Really gay folks? Why?)
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:43 AM on August 30, 2011


Winnemac says "It's almost certain that there are actually a good deal more same sex couples than reported."

I agree, I know at least one lesbian couple who have lived together for 7+yrs and who don't report to the Census as a same-sex couple, because they are afraid that if something happens in the future they'll get carted off to a concentration camp or something.
posted by backwords at 9:54 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


The merpeople, of any gender affectionalism, are not allowed to be residents of RI until they stop luring sailors to their doom. This may seem harsh, but it is necessary for the maintenance of interstate trade and tourism.

I really wish this hideous misconception would just go away already. Merfolk are no more likely to lure sailors to their doom than are land-based people.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:00 AM on August 30, 2011 [8 favorites]


It's almost certain that there are actually a good deal more same sex couples than reported.

That's true and will continue to be true even after full right and benefits are obtained. I know at least one pair who haven't even admitted publically to being a couple after more than a decade of full and equal marriage rights in our part of the world. It's a big step to cross a threshold that has been locked your entire life. Some people will never do it, even after living together for decades. Social and family pressures can be very strong.
posted by bonehead at 10:05 AM on August 30, 2011


If all of these adults turn out and vote in 2012, it could really make a difference. Granted, Obama has not been stellar in his support of this particular type of equality, but the alternative could be pretty dire, with a GOP White House, House, and Senate.
posted by Danf at 10:06 AM on August 30, 2011


Palm Springs has a higher percentage of same-sex couple households than West Hollywood! And this is with Liberace being dead, even.
posted by Danf at 10:12 AM on August 30, 2011


I really wish this hideous misconception would just go away already. Merfolk are no more likely to lure sailors to their doom than are land-based people.

...says the MERMAN!!
posted by epj at 10:12 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


I'm amphibious, actually.
posted by Sys Rq at 10:14 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


with a GOP White House, House, and Senate.

Oh, gawd, I just threw up a little in my mouth. Suddenly, I feel the strong urge to become very politically active. That scares me like all the 80s post-political apocalypse movies coming true at once. (Wolverines!)

Not like I'm doing anything else with my time, except MeFi & WOWC.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:14 AM on August 30, 2011


Oh, I should have tied that in with the thread. Um..., I'm gay, I want more representation. I didn't even see a census worker this last time around and I'm mostly home-bound. When the census worker came by years ago when I lived with as a trio (with children), we just listed 2nd female as "roommate".

I don't want to be scared to put stuff like that out there, but I am. Which is why I now make myself do it. I will not be discounted, intimidated, etc to be scared of who I am. Not anymore.
posted by _paegan_ at 10:19 AM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, when I looked at the data for the state I grew up in (NC) it turned the highest counties for same-sex child rearing was bizarre mixture of urban(the Charlotte area) and insanely rural (Sampson County? Really gay folks? Why?)

I experienced this this Summer. I have strong roots in Chicago and very rural Indiana. I feel completely comfortable in very rural areas or very urban areas. Gay guy, late 30s. I do NOT feel comfortable in larger small towns (100,000+/-) or mid-size towns/cities (except places like Madison, WI or Bloomington, IN...etc)

I think the city thing explains itself, but as a gay guy who is not too far off of what most people (regardless of how I consider myself) would consider typical gender expression there is a very "mind-your-own-damn-business-and-leave-these-good-folks-alone" vibe. Not everywhere, but that is my take on it.

You can be really eccentric way out in the country and nobody cares: There is hay to bale and horses to feed. "You want to mind your neighbor's business for them and let your cattle starve? Have at it. I have a farm to run."
posted by Tchad at 10:32 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I am disgusted that you oppose the right of mermen to wed other mermen.


There is a "Fox News/anchor babies" joke bobbing in the waves, just out of sight, singing its siren song. Seeking to lure the unwary.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:34 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


there's lots of reasons to think the US Census miscounts gay and lesbian families.

Totally true. The decennial Census data is dependent on self-reporting - and people are bad at self-reporting. From the PDF:
Williams Institute research also suggests that as many as 25% of the recorded same-sex couples in Census 2010 may be different-sex married couples who made an error on the Census form and miscoded the sex of one spouse, making them appear to be a same sex married couple.
I worked at the Census last summer (in the office, doing data entry) and... wow.

A) The information is hand-recorded and then scanned in. If you don't follow the fairly specific letter-and-number drawing requirements, God only knows what the scan will report. We had a big issue where a bunch of the QA was held up because thousands of "Population: 01" entries scanned as "81" and then the system freaked out because there were not in fact 81 names attached to the form.

B) People were paranoid as fuck about the Census in general and were often really reluctant to report anything at all, let alone socially-unaccepted relationships. Here in Texas we had immigrants terrified that filling out the Census would tip off la migra, right-wing types listening to Bachmann telling people the Census data would be used to round people up and send them to internment camps, lots of people terrified that real or impostor Census workers were out to rape and kill them, etc. There were a lot of forces influencing what got reported and they all tended to discourage reporting anything remotely sensitive.

C) The only thing we were bulldoggish about getting was the occupancy of a given unit. Ultimately if you didn't want to give out names, we'd only press so far - headcount was the critical thing. So there were many, many census forms recorded as a simple "Occupied, Pop X" with no names, relationships, etc. Again leading to underreporting of everything, although that will skew less in any given direction.
posted by restless_nomad at 10:38 AM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


Re: Rural vs. Urban

When there's 200 people in a township, that's a maximum of 200 potential bigots to deal with. And the thing about rural bigots, in my experience, is that they tend to be bigots out of ignorance, which is remedied extremely easily just by interacting with them in a civilised manner and showing them that their bigotry is baseless. Killing them with kindness actually works most of the time.

Urban bigots, on the other hand, tend to be of the "knowledgeable" variety -- that is, they've dealt with a sufficient number of x, y, and z to form unshakeable stereotypes about each.

I'd take the rural bigot over the urban any day.

(He said, betraying his own stereotypical line of thinking...)
posted by Sys Rq at 10:46 AM on August 30, 2011


The darkest spots in Montana are counties with Indian reservations. Very curious. I knew one gay kid from the Crow Reservation when I lived out there, and he was deeply closeted. I did not get the impression that the reservations were very tolerant.
posted by desjardins at 10:59 AM on August 30, 2011


Northern Wisconsin also has a lot of Indian reservations. Likewise the darkest spots of North and South Dakota. What is going on here? Is there really an above-average number of same-sex couples on Indian reservations? That seems unlikely to me.
posted by desjardins at 11:01 AM on August 30, 2011


Forgot to link: US Map of Indian reservations
posted by desjardins at 11:02 AM on August 30, 2011


Actually, there is a long history of two-spirit people in native communities.

"It is a lasting testament to the psychological sophistication of Native tribes that they recognized two-spirit people as being engines of creativity, change and innovation (much as they have been in other cultures and continue to be in ours) and co-operated in creating the sacred space in which such people could manifest. As Joe Medicine Crow, a Crow traditionalist, told Walter Williams, “We don’t waste people the way white society does. Every person has their gift.” [12]

Andrew Calimach, World History of Male Love, "Homosexual Traditions", The Two-Spirit Traditon, 2000
posted by Sophie1 at 11:08 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


I was relieved to know that there are very few same-sex couples in the waters surround Block Island.

I am disgusted that you oppose the right of mermen to wed other mermen.

Merpersons. Let's not be sexist.


I'm shocked to encounter such casual use of the M-word on MetaFilter. The proper term is Deep Ones.
posted by The Tensor at 11:25 AM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


Oh, come off your PC high horse! Next you'll insist that we call them Mer-mericans.
posted by Nomyte at 11:45 AM on August 30, 2011


Highest counts seem to be in California, Florida and Massachusetts. The city/county counts aren't broken down by sex, though: you have to look at the maps and guess.

As a lesbian who'd prefer to live in a city, I guess I should move to San Francisco, Minneapolis, or Burlington But, they're all so cold. ;_;
posted by subdee at 12:24 PM on August 30, 2011


Although, there's always cities like Portland and Austin, which have lower numbers of co-habitating same-sex couples, but appear to be shared more equally by queer men and women. *cheers up*
posted by subdee at 12:30 PM on August 30, 2011


Merfolk are no more likely to lure sailors to their doom than are land-based people.

at the risk of sounding like I am blaming the victim....Sailors just need the faintest fart of a push in the right direction to be lured doomwards. Married to the sea and all that.
posted by ian1977 at 12:40 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Plus Mermen have those killer abs
posted by The Whelk at 12:56 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


subdee - San Francisco is not cold!

Anyway, there are lesbian couples all over in my Milwaukee neighborhood. This seems to have become a more pronounced trend in the last year. Not so much gay men, for whatever reason.
posted by desjardins at 1:18 PM on August 30, 2011


Nelson: I don't have any better source of demographic data on US households, but there's lots of reasons to think the US Census miscounts gay and lesbian families.

I don't think there's a better source that has a nationwide reach. And it may well be that gay families are miscounted (or more accurately undercounted) by the census, but they are at least making an effort to count us now, which is a good thing. Could always be better, but it's a start.

desjardins: subdee - San Francisco is not cold!

Depends on the neighborhood and time of year. The Sunset and Richmond can be fairly cold when the fog rolls in.
posted by blucevalo at 1:27 PM on August 30, 2011


well, I wouldn't lump SF with Minneapolis and Burlington, weather-wise.
posted by desjardins at 1:43 PM on August 30, 2011


To some people, an average of 60 degrees in August is too cold. To others, it's nearly perfect.
posted by rtha at 1:56 PM on August 30, 2011


Restless Nomad and others should listen to or watch the quite entertaining podcast with Gary Gates, in which he explains that a nontrivial number of respondents will admit to a survey (ostensibly an inanimate object) they’re gay without ever having told another human being. Among other things. I read many analyses of the underlying U.S. Census data (and other countries’) for my Gay Money project, as some will recall from MeFi Projects.
posted by joeclark at 2:17 PM on August 30, 2011 [1 favorite]


Oh, come off your PC high horse! Next you'll insist that we call them Mer-mericans.

First, it's a PC seahorse, thank you very much.

Also, I am pretty sure the correct term is A-mer-ican.
posted by GenjiandProust at 2:55 PM on August 30, 2011 [2 favorites]


What if the survey was delivered via robo-call? Then even if you know it's a computer that you're talking to it feels a little bit more like you're talking to a human.

And are people more likely to admit that they're gay if the robo-call asks "press 1 for gay. press 2 for not gay." than if it asks "say 'yes' if you're gay, say 'no' if you're not gay."? It seems like they might; talking still feels like something you only do to humans, voice recognition software notwithstanding.
posted by madcaptenor at 2:56 PM on August 30, 2011


On the other hand, the rate of divorce among same-sex couples remains close to zero.

I can't tell if you meant this as a joke or what, but I'll take it as a bit of snark which deserves a response.

There have been more than a few reports (and these articles give broad outlines about the issue) about married gay couples who cannot divorce because of the disparity of gay marriage laws in this country. Either they literally cannot divorce, because there is no jurisdiction which covers such things where they live, or if they divorce they will suffer huge losses, because same-sex property rights haven't been ironed out where they live. Or any other number of complications.

It's all just a hurf-durf, look at the statistics matter until you realize the legal limbo a lot of married gay couples who DO want to divorce find themselves in. And then it's a horrid morass, and is no laughing matter at all.
posted by hippybear at 3:09 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


The merpeople, of any gender affectionalism, are not allowed to be residents of RI until they stop luring sailors to their doom. This may seem harsh, but it is necessary for the maintenance of interstate trade and tourism.

Yeah. Because you breathers are such an oppressed group.
posted by sebastienbailard at 4:42 PM on August 30, 2011 [3 favorites]


a nontrivial number of respondents will admit to a survey (ostensibly an inanimate object) they’re gay without ever having told another human being.

Huh, that's really neat. I don't think there's any way to parse the Census data between people who filled out the survey themselves vs. people who talked to one of the field reps - it's a pity, because I'd be fascinated to see if that was a consistent pattern.
posted by restless_nomad at 6:06 PM on August 30, 2011


a nontrivial number of respondents will admit to a survey (ostensibly an inanimate object) they’re gay without ever having told another human being.


That's... kind of heartbreaking.
posted by running order squabble fest at 10:05 AM on August 31, 2011


I'm listening to the podcast joeclark mentioned above--and indeed, it's pretty amazing--the "nontrivial" figure he cites is about 13% of self-identified LGBs (many of whom are bi). Which: wow.
posted by psoas at 4:41 PM on August 31, 2011 [1 favorite]


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