Sunday, October 02, 2005

Gay Couples in the Census Data

When I first saw this story it didn't really catch my eye. OK, gay couples are like straight couples. That can't be that much of a surprise, we all got the same stuff to do, wash the dishes, fight over the remote, walk the dog -- OK, the thing about the toilet seat might be different, but generally, this just didn't seem very surprising.

But then I started thinking about all those presentations to the school board by people opposed to the new curriculum changes. People go to the school board public comments and tell them about all the diseases that homosexuals get, tell them about feces-ingesting sex practices, try to suggest that high school kids are cruising the gay dating web sites on school computers. I thought about Peter Sprigg at the CRC Hate-Fest, with his "myths" about homosexuality, telling everybody how they molest children and how they make more money than the rest of us (his point being, that means there just can't be any discrimination against them).

The other side is really trying to build a case that gay people are weird and strange, a danger to society that needs to be eliminated, well, kept suppressed anyway. So I went back to this story, just to see how weird they really are.

The piece is called Same-Sex Couples and Same-Sex Couples Raising Children in the USA, and it was just published by a research group at the UCLA School of Law. It's really just an analysis of 2000 Census data, I suppose anybody could have done this. This is not a peer-reviewed study, just an analysis done by a think-tank, but it doesn't appear to have any fancy weighting or statistical modeling in it, and I would think anybody with a background in statistics could grab these same public Census files and check the results.

Here, I'll just paste in their Executive Summary:

  • We estimate, based on the best available studies of human sexuality, that there are approximately 4 to 6 million adults who self-identify as gay men or lesbians in the United States.
  • Approximately 594,000 householders identified themselves as living with a same-sex “unmarried partner” in Census 2000.
  • Census 2000 identified same-sex couples in every state and virtually every county in the United States. The four states with the highest percentage of same-sex couple households are Vermont, California, Washington, Massachusetts, and Oregon.
  • Individuals living in same-sex couples not only live throughout the country, but share all of the other attributes of the U.S.'s population -- they include every race, every ethnicity, the able-bodied and the disabled, citizens and non-citizens.
  • Individuals in same-sex couples contribute to the United States economy: 71% of them are employed compared with 65% of individuals in married couples.
  • Individuals in same-sex couples have served the United States in the armed forces: 15% percent of them are veterans compared with 19% of individuals in married couples.
  • Individuals in same-sex couples depend on one another economically in ways similar to married couples. Disparate income levels between partners provide evidence of interdependence, suggesting that one partner is caring for the other. Members of same-sex couples have higher disparities of income than different-sex unmarried couples, though not as highly disparate as married couples.
  • Similarly, in 65% of same-sex couples one partner is a homeowner. By comparison, one or both partners are homeowners in 43% of different-sex unmarried couples and 81% of married couples.

In analyzing parents in same-sex couples in the United States, we consider the population aged 22-55 since this is the group most likely to be raising children.
  • More than 39% of same-sex couples in the United States aged 22-55 are raising children; they are raising more than 250,000 children under age 18.
  • Same-sex parents are more likely than different-sex parents to be black and Hispanic. The children of same-sex couples are similarly diverse: over 46% are children-of-color.
  • Compared to different-sex couples with children, same-sex couples with children have fewer economic resources to care for their children. Same-sex parents have lower household incomes, lower home ownership rates, and lower levels of education than different-sex parents.
  • The median household income for same-sex parents in the United States is $10,000 lower than the median household income for different-sex parents; the average household income is almost $12,000 lower. In addition, the home ownership rate for same-sex parents is 15% lower than that for different-sex parents.

The picture of same-sex couples raising children presented by Census 2000 is quite different than the popular misconception that gay people are predominantly male, affluent, urban, white and childless. Many people in same-sex couples look like Americans generally. Individuals in same-sex couples raising children, however, do not fare as well as their different-sex counterparts: they are less affluent, more racially and ethnically diverse, and hence particularly in need of the legal, social, and economic benefits of marriage.

You might want to go back and listen to Peter Sprigg's (mp3) scary talk at the March Hate-Fest. Are any of his statements supported by this little study?

Listen, you CRC guys, a little advice from ol' Uncle JimK. You don't want students to learn about homosexuality in school. I really don't know why. Reporters have asked me what I think motivates you, but I can't answer it. I really don't get it. But let me give you a little suggestion. Don't try to convince us of the evils of homosexuality by saying that gay people are all that different from the rest of us. Because we live next door to them, we shop at the grocery store with them, our kids go to school with theirs. And, y'know, whatever your problem is with them, nobody really buys the scary picture you're trying to paint.


Blogger andrea said...

I am clearly no diplomat because I often say what motivates CRC-fear and hatred of people who are not "like them". Am I wrong? The CRC/PFOX crew say they don't hate or fear homosexuals(well, if they would be quiet, stay in their place and not ask to be treated like everyone else- sound familiar?- circa 1950/1960?)- but I don't buy it. And you know the old saying-if it looks like hatred and smells like hatred, it probably is hatred.


October 02, 2005 7:24 PM  
Blogger JimK said...

Andrea, it seems to me, too, that they fear people who aren't like them, but that's as far as I can get. Why is that? Why is "different" scary? I just can't relate to that.

When I see somebody like Robert Knight or Peter Sprigg, who have dedicated their lives to fighting something that does them no harm, and which has always existed and will continue to exist as long as there are people ... I just don't get it.


October 03, 2005 8:44 AM  

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