top of page
Search
  • The San Juan Daily Star

Same-sex couple households in US surpass 1 million


In San Francisco, Mayor London Breed officiated at the marriage of two women on the grand staircase in the rotunda of City Hall in June 2021.

By Remy Tumin


The number of same-sex couple households in the United States surpassed 1 million for the first time, according to data recently released by the Census Bureau, reflecting a shift toward wider acceptance of such arrangements in American culture and politics.


According to the American Community Survey, a companion to the decennial census that is produced every year, there were about 1.2 million same-sex couple households in 2021. About 710,000 of them — nearly 60% — were married and about 500,000 were unmarried.


“I’m most struck by how widespread this distribution of same sex couples is,” said Dowell Myers, a specialist in urban growth and societal change at the University of Southern California. “It’s in every state. It’s not just a West Coast or Left Coast; it’s America.”


The District of Columbia had the highest percentage of same-sex couple households of any state or state equivalent, with 2.5%, according to the data. Hawaii followed with 1.4%, and Oregon and Delaware at 1.3%. South Dakota has the lowest percentage of same-sex households at 0.4%.


The number of same-sex couples has grown steadily. In 2008, the survey recorded about 550,000 same-sex couple households; by 2018, it was about 1 million. The number of married same-sex households began to outpace unmarried same-sex couple households in 2016, a year after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage.


Myers said that the 1.2 million number is probably “somewhat of an undercount” but that couples in general are usually “more countable.”


Single people are more likely to be undercounted in the census, he said.


“People who aren’t attached drift around and you can’t get the survey in their hands,” Myers said. “Married couples in particular are very easy to find and they are responsible respondents and much less likely to be undercounted.”


The American Community Survey is sent to about 3.5 million households in 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico every year. It asks questions not asked in the 2020 census and provides much more detailed data, including information on education, employment, internet access, transportation and living arrangements.


“It allows them to get into a lot of details of small populations for small locations,” Myers said. “Every neighborhood is covered.”


The average age of households in same-sex married couples, about 49 years old, was lower than in heterosexual married couples, for whom the average age is about 53 years old, the survey found. But the average age of households in same-sex unmarried couples, around 42, was higher than heterosexual unmarried couples, around 40.


According to the data, a larger share of same-sex couples had bachelor’s degrees than among heterosexual unmarried couples, and a larger share of same-sex married couples were interracial compared with heterosexual couples.


The new data came on the heels of growing bipartisan support for same-sex marriage. The U.S. Senate passed landmark legislation this week that mandates federal recognition for same-sex marriages. The bill would repeal the Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples, and prohibits states from denying out-of-state marriages based on sex, race or ethnicity.


The bill is expected to win final approval in the House, possibly as soon as next week, and head to President Joe Biden’s desk for his signature.

16 views0 comments
bottom of page