Abstract

Much recent research on sexual minorities has used couples-based samples, which—by construction—provide no information on nonpartnered individuals. We present the first systematic empirical analysis of partnership and cohabitation among self-identified gay men and lesbians using two independent, large, population-wwbased data sources from California. These data indicate that 37%–46% of gay men and 51%–62% of lesbians aged 18–59 are in cohabiting partnerships (compared with 62% of heterosexual individuals in coresidential unions at comparable ages). Unlike previous research, we find that white and highly educated gay men and lesbians are more likely to be partnered, and we confirm that same-sex cohabiting partners in our data have demographic characteristics that are similar to California same-sex couples from Census 2000. We also present the first detailed analysis of officially registered domestic partnerships in California. We find that almost half of partnered lesbians are officially registered with the local or state government, while less than a quarter of partnered gay men are officially registered. We conclude with implications of our findings for couples-based research on gay men and lesbians, as well as recommendations for survey data collection.

This content is only available as a PDF.

References

Andersson, G., Noack, T., Seierstad, A., & Weedon-Fekjaer, H. (
2006
).
The Demographics of Same-Sex Marriages in Norway and Sweden
.
Demography
,
43
,
79
98
. 10.1353/dem.2006.0001
Badgett, M.V.L., & Rogers, M.A. (
2003
).
Left Out of the Count: Missing Same-Sex Couples in Census 2000
.
Amherst, MA
:
Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies
.
Badgett, M.V.L., G.J. Gates, and N. Maisel. Forthcoming.“Registered Domestic Partnerships Among Gay Men and Lesbians: The Role of Economic Factors.” Review of Economics in the Household.
Bennett, L., & Gates, G.J. (
2004
).
The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Children and Their Same-Sex Parents
.
Washington, DC
:
Human Rights Campaign Foundation
.
Black, D., Gates, G., Sanders, S., & Taylor, L. (
2000
).
Demographics of the Gay and Lesbian Population in the United States: Evidence From Available Systematic Data Sources
.
Demography
,
37
,
139
54
. 10.2307/2648117
Black, D. (
2006
).
The Measurement of Same-Sex Unmarried Partner Couples in the 2000 U.S. Census
.
Los Angeles
:
California Center for Population Research, University of California
.
Black, D., Sanders, S., & Taylor, L. (
2007
).
The Economics of Lesbian and Gay Families
.
Journal of Economic Perspectives
,
21
(
2
),
53
70
. 10.1257/jep.21.2.53
Blumstein, P., & Schwartz, P. (
1983
).
American Couples: Money, Work, Sex
.
New York
:
William Morrow & Co
.
Carpenter, C. (
2004
).
New Evidence on Gay and Lesbian Household Incomes
.
Contemporary Economic Policy
,
22
,
78
94
. 10.1093/cep/byh007
Carpenter, C. (
2005
).
Self-reported Sexual Orientation and Earnings: Evidence From California
.
Industrial and Labor Relations Review
,
58
,
258
73
.
Carpenter, C. Forthcoming.“Sexual Orientation, Work, and Income in Canada.” Canadian Journal of Economics.
Congressional Budget Office (CBO). 2004.“The Potential Budgetary Impact of Recognizing Same-Sex Marriages.” Available online at http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/55xx/doc5559 /06-21- SameSexMarriage.pdf.
Festy, P. 2007.“Enumerating Same-Sex Couples in Censuses and Population Registers.” Demographic Research, Volume 17, article 12:339-68. Available online at http://www.demographic-research .org/Volumes/Vol17/12/.
Gates, G.J., H. Lau, and R.B. Sears. 2006.“Race and Ethnicity of Same-Sex Couples in California: Data From Census 2000.” Report. The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law.
Gates, G.J, & Ost, J. (
2004
).
The Gay and Lesbian Atlas
.
Washington, DC
:
Urban Institute Press
.
General Register Office. 2006.“6,516 Civil Partnerships Formed in England and Wales by 31 March.” Press release from United Kingdom Office of National Statistics, June 23.
Kurdek, L.A. (
1988
).
Perceived Social Support in Gays and Lesbians in Cohabiting Relationships
.
Journal of Personality and Social Psychology
,
54
,
504
509
. 10.1037/0022-3514.54.3.504
Kurdek, L.A. (
1998
).
Relationship Outcomes and Their Predictors: Longitudinal Evidence From Heterosexual Married, Gay Cohabiting, and Lesbian Cohabiting Couples
.
Journal of Marriage and the Family
,
60
,
553
68
. 10.2307/353528
Kurdek, L.A. (
2006
).
Differences Between Partners From Heterosexual, Gay, and Lesbian Cohabiting Couples
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
68
,
509
28
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2006.00268.x
Laumann, E., Gagnon, J., Michael, R., & Michaels, S. (
1994
).
The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States
.
Chicago
:
University of Chicago Press
.
The Office of Legislative Council. 2002.“Report of the Vermont Civil Union Review Commission.” Office of Legislative Council, Montpelier, VT.
Patterson, C.J. (
2000
).
Family Relationships of Lesbians and Gay Men
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
62
,
1052
69
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01052.x
Romero, A.P., A.K. Baumle, M.V.L. Badgett, and G.J. Gates. 2007.“Census Snapshot: United States.” The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law. Available online at http://www.law.ucla.edu /williamsinstitute/publications/USCensusSnapshot.pdf.
Seltzer, J.A. (
2000
).
Families Formed Outside of Marriage
.
Journal of Marriage and Family
,
62
,
1247
68
. 10.1111/j.1741-3737.2000.01247.x
Smock, P.J. (
2000
).
Cohabitation in the United States: An Appraisal of Research Themes, Findings, and Implications
.
Annual Review of Sociology
,
26
,
1
20
. 10.1146/annurev.soc.26.1.1