Do New Gay Census Statistics in Mass. Actually Matter?
An analysis of the 2010 U.S. census shows more than 26,000 same-sex couples live in Massachusetts.
The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law released the report on Aug.17. The rate of same-sex couples in the Commonwealth is 10.2 per 1,000 households. Sixty-two percent of the couples are women, compared to 38 percent who are men.
Most gay and lesbian couples who live in the Bay State are not raising children, according to the study. Eighty-one percent-or 21,004 couples-are childless, compared to 5,005 couples who have children in their households.
The Williams Institute also found Provincetown and Northampton have the highest concentrations of same-sex couples in Massachusetts.
Kara Suffredini, executive director of Mass Equality, said the survey reflects the geographic diversity of the LGBT population.
"There are more than 26,000 same-sex couples living across the state from Suffolk County to Barnstable, Hampshire, and Franklin Counties," Suffredini told EDGE. "It’s no surprise that Northampton has the highest numbers of same-sex couples living there. But it is interesting that the town with the second highest number of same-sex couples is Arlington, which is a family-friendly suburb known more for its schools, the Minuteman Bike Path, and a lot of independent shops and restaurants than anything that would act as a particular draw for LGBT people."
Suffredini said the significance of the high concentration of same-sex couples raising children in the more rural Western part of the state should not be overlooked.
"It’s important to remember that this area includes Springfield, which was recently home to an anti-gay hate crime and was where an 11-year-old boy killed himself after being subjected to anti-gay bullying by classmates," said Sufredini, referring to Carl Hoover Walker who took his own life in April 2009. "So as much progress as we have made-which these data show-so much work remains to ensure that every lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender person in Massachusetts is protected from cradle to grave-with equal rights and opportunities in school, in marriage and family life, at work and in retirement."
Mary Bonauto, civil rights project director for Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders, provided her own analysis of the statistics.
"Looking at this, and having worked closely with the LGBT community for 21+ years at Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders (GLAD), I would say the numbers corroborate what we’ve been saying: committed gay and lesbian couples are part of every community in the Commonwealth, and a significant portion of those couples are raising children," she told EDGE.
Log onto www.law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute for further information.