Married same-sex couples more likely to raise adopted, foster children and are more economically secure
According to Williams Institute Research Director Gary Gates’ assessment of a new preliminary estimate from Gallup, the number of legally married same-sex couples in the United States has more than doubled over the last year. The new figures suggest that, as of February 2015, more than 700,000 Americans are part of a married same-sex couple, implying that there are now about 350,000 married same-sex couples in the country. Estimates from the 2013 National Health Interview Survey had the figure at 130,000.
“These new figures showing a surge in same-sex couples marrying across the country highlight the historic nature of the past year for LGBT individuals and their families,” said Gary J. Gates, Blachford-Cooper Distinguished Scholar and Research Director at the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law.
Two new research reports released today and authored by Gates show that same-sex couples, particularly married ones, are more likely to be raising adopted or foster children than their different-sex counterparts. The reports also found that same-sex couples with children have a lower median annual income than different-sex couples with kids but, like different-sex couples, married same-sex couples are more economically secure.
“The debates about marriage and same-sex couples have focused substantial attention on the idea that marriage is a great environment for raising children,” Gates said. “Same-sex couples seem to agree. Married same-sex couples are much more likely than their unmarried counterparts to have kids, particularly adopted and foster children.”
Findings from the two Williams Institute reports will be included in a friend-of-the-court brief that will be submitted on Friday to the Supreme Court of the United States as part of the same-sex marriage cases in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee.
Key findings of the reports include:
- Nearly one in five same-sex couples (18 percent) are raising children. An estimated 122,000 same-sex couples are raising 210,000 children under age 18, of whom 58,000 are adopted or foster children. Among married same-sex couples, more than one in four (27 percent) are raising children.
• Married same-sex couples have a median household income that is approximately 27 percent higher than the median income of unmarried same-sex couples. Poverty is substantially less common among married same-sex couples (4 percent) than among unmarried same-sex couples (18 percent).
• Nearly 1 in 5 children being raised by same-sex couples is living in poverty. But among married same-sex couples, that figure is less than 1 in 10.
• In Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, 19 percent (nearly 11,000) of the 56,000 same-sex couples are raising children under 18 years old. Perhaps due to more restrictive policies regarding adoption and fostering among same-sex couples, same-sex couples with children in those states are less likely to have adopted or foster children (14 percent).
The first study, titled “Demographics of Married and Unmarried Same-Sex Couples: Analyses of the 2013 American Community Survey,” analyzes nationwide data. The second study, “Demographics of Same-sex Couples in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee: Analyses of 2013 American Community Survey,” focuses on the four states whose same-sex marriage cases will be considered by the Supreme Court in June.