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Same-Sex Couples Increase by 30%

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A Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy study (PDF) released Wednesday shows the number of same-sex couples in America has dramatically increased since 2000. The study, based on the Census Bureau’s new American Community Survey (ACS), shows a 30 percent increase in same-sex couples between 2000 and 2005 — nearly five times the six percent growth rate of the U.S. population. The increased numbers are most likely not from a greater number of gay people beginning relationships, but the increased willingness of same-sex couples to identify as such.

When the census statistics were being collected in 1999 and 2000, it was still illegal to have gay sex in several states (until the Supreme Court overturned sodomy laws in 2003). It had been a little over a year since Matthew Shepard was beaten and tied to a fence in rural Wyoming and several years before same-sex marriage was believed to be a realistic goal for equality. But in the years between the 2000 census and the most recent ACS survey, much happened that has radically changed gay and lesbian people and their role in society. Gay and lesbian relationships have been used by presidential and Congressional candidates as a weapon for mobilizing anti-gay voters. Same-sex marriage has been legalized in Massachusetts and the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay and lesbian people in Lawrence v. Texas. These events have encouraged same-sex couples to live their lives more openly and honestly, which is part of the reason we see the tremendous increase in same-sex couples between 2000 and 2005.

In six of the eight states with anti-marriage equality amendments on the November ballot, the number of same-sex couples has increased more than the national average of 30 percent. The number of same-sex couples in Wisconsin has increased by 81 percent since 2000, Colorado by 58 percent and South Carolina by 39 percent. Although these numbers are unlikely to dramatically affect the outcome of these ballot initiatives, they could make moderate politicians reconsider their positions on these amendments. Support for anti-gay amendments will alienate a larger number of people than the 2000 statistics would suggest, and in close races, it could make a difference in whether a politician wins an election.

The Williams Institute study estimates there are 8.8 million gay, lesbian and bisexual (GLB) Americans and that there are same-sex couples in every Congressional district in the United States. Although the study shows GLB people make up only 3 percent of the U.S. population, the actual number is likely higher because of the number of GLB people who are closeted or did not identify as GLB in the ACS survey. These numbers can make an important voting bloc in elections that have grown increasingly tight in recent years.

As statistics on the gay and lesbian population continue to become more accurate, the impact of sexual orientation and gender identity issues on elections will become increasingly evident. While the average American voter feels less threatened by the possibility of same-sex marriage, gays and lesbians are continuing to come out and become an influence in American politics.

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About E.I.

  • Silas Kain

    While the average American voter feels less threatened by the possibility of same-sex marriage, gays and lesbians are continuing to come out and become an influence in American politics.

    And it’s about damn time! Thanks for the information, News. I don’t think it’s as much as we’re increasing in numbers as it is that we are no longer content to be shoved into closets to hide in shame. We’re doing nothing wrong. We are leading productive, full and happy lives. Soon I’ll be amongst the ranks of married gay Americans and that day could not come fast enough for me.

  • Elsa

    Sure is nice to see progress like this.

  • Dave Nalle

    I was surprised at how low the percentage for the gay population given in this article was. Is 3% of the population actually correct? I would have expected a much higher number.


  • Karl Rove


    I told you, they are all gay! GAY I SAY. This is your last chance to vote Republican, America. Otherwise, the gays will take over.

    stop worrying about the economy, or war, or the environment, human rights, or the debt. Worry about the gays, I command you!

  • W. Greer

    I am wondering where is the population growth going to come from if everybody is a same-sex marriage.

  • E.I.

    W Greer – The population growth will be not be affected by these numbers. The actual number of gay and lesbian people is not changing… statisticians are just getting more accurate counts.

    Dave – It is highly likely that the number is much greater than 3 percent (most believe between 5 and 7 percent, although these are just rough estimates). One of the problems is that when those conducting the survey contact people, many who are gay or lesbian will not come out to them (strangers) over the phone. It is hard to tell how many people are gay or lesbian but did not identify themselves as such in the survey. But, as more gay and lesbian people feel safe coming out to someone they don’t know, we will continue to see the numbers increase and they will become more accurate.

  • Silas Kain

    Is 3% of the population actually correct?

    I believe Kinsey says it’s 10% but I’m not sure, Dave. These days it seems like a new gay sprouts up every time I turn around. Not that I am complaining but I am a betrothed man, after all.

  • A.L. Harper

    I have chosen this article as one of my editor’s picks of the week. You can see what I had to say here.

    Congratulations and keep up the good work.

    A.L. Harper
    Assistant Music Editor

  • so very much true

    this is very disgusting, and they are a deadly disease that is out of control now. will there ever be a cure for this?

  • Christopher Rose

    As a heterosexual I find the remarks of “so very much true” to be completely offensive and wonder if there will ever be a cure for rampant stupidity?

  • Mark

    The statistics mean that roughly 3% of the population identify with being GLBT?


    for all you people out there that believe in same sex couples, you should have your heads examined.


    TO CHRISTOPHER ROSE, everyone has a right to their own opinion. YOU MORON.

  • Zingzing

    Mr. Says… What you said is hypocritical, moron.

    Mr. M… They do exist. And they do the nasty. Think about it. Think hard about it. Let it wash over you. Have you got it in hand? Examine the head. Feel its contours. Manipulate it and tease it out. Eureka, an epiphany emerges!

  • Christopher Rose

    It’s true that everybody has a right to their own opinion but that doesn’t mean that everybody’s opinion is of equal merit.

    By the way, as BILLY M and JOE SAYS share an IP address, I wonder if that means they are a same sex couple?

    Zingzing: You are very naughty but I like you!

  • I Mean Seriously

    getting to be much harder for us straight guys looking to meet a good woman these days.

    • Alex Sarkisian

      Oh yeah, I thought of the same – heteros becoming the minority