A recent census study reveals that gay and straight couples have several similarities, including age, number of children in the household and level of income. Although I think a more precise study could be done on states where gay marriage is legal, it's still an informative article. Here's an excerpt:
Members of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force have been meeting with the Obama administration over the issue. On Wednesday, the administration extended limited job benefits to gay partners of federal workers, and President Barack Obama said he would work to repeal the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman.
"I think the signs are good from Commerce (Department) that this policy is going to be reversed," said Jamie Grant, director of the Policy Institute at the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force.
One argument they may be able to use for the policy change is that same-sex couples who check "husband" or "wife" on a census form appear to be a very different demographic group than couples who check "unmarried partner," according to the new census study.
Those "married" couples tended to be older and have lower incomes, but were more likely to have children and own their home, than same-sex couples who checked "unmarried partner." In terms of education, homeownership, children and income, the same-sex "married" couples more closely resembled heterosexual husbands and wives.
Martin O'Connell, chief of the Census Bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, said the agency decided to dig into its unpublished internal files after the California Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in May 2008.
"We saw it was going to be a pretty important issue," O'Connell said.
O'Connell defended editing the census responses of same-sex couples where gay marriage isn't legal.
"What if you fill out the form to say you are my sister?" O'Connell said in a conversation with a male reporter. "Does that make you my sister? No, you're not my sister. "... People have to ask what is the responsibility of the Census Bureau to provide data that people have confidence in."
The bureau says it is also bound by federal law. And changing the definition of marriage would have statistical ramifications throughout the federal government.
Gary Gates, a demographer with the Williams Institute at the UCLA law school and an expert on gay and lesbian demographics, compared the number of California marriages on the same dates in 2007 with the number in 2008 to produce the estimate that there were 18,000 same-sex marriages last year.
But O'Connell checked that methodology against records in Massachusetts, which does count same-sex married couples. He said that methodology could have inflated the number of married couples by a third.
Gates said his estimate is conservative, because the worsening economy potentially would have caused fewer Californians to marry in 2008, strongly suggesting the spike in marriages starting June 17 was due to same-sex couples.
Both demographers agree that with state marriage laws changing so rapidly, better data is needed. "Not all of these can be legally married same-sex couples — there are too many of them," Gates said of the census study. "They are capturing, in essence, a socially constructed term, more than a legally constructed term."
Read the rest here.
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