Earlier this week, the U.S. Census Bureau released more detailed figures from last year’s count, including new data on same-sex households.
The UCLA School of Law’s well-respected Williams Institute has taken the data and developed a “snapshot” of the city’s gay households, as they’re doing for the 50 states. According to raw census figures, there are 5,146 same-sex couples in the city, representing 19.3 of every 1,000 households (about 2 percent).
Researchers adjusted the data for reporting and tabulating deficiencies and teased out some more data: Almost three-quarters of the city’s gay couples, 72 percent, are male, and approximately one in 10 of all gay couples are raising children.
That most of the city’s same-sex couples are male is unusual, said Gary J. Gates, a Williams Institute scholar. “Most states have been majority female couples. I don’t think any of them are majority male,” he said. “That’s a big difference.” It also contributes, he said, to a lower-than-average rate of child-rearing couples — the nationwide average runs higher than 20 percent.
The Institute also identified the census tracts with the highest proportion of gay couples. Not surprisingly, the traditionally gay-friendly Dupont Circle and Logan Circle neighborhoods took the highest spots, with same-sex couples there representing more than 7 percent of all households. But ranking third is the more staid, suburban Crestwood neighborhood in Ward 4, nestled between Rock Creek Park and 16th Street NW.
Another striking finding is the distribution of same-sex couples: Male couples are much more centralized in downtown neighborhoods. Female couples are more evenly distributed through the city. And the distribution of same-sex couples rearing children shows that most are doing so on the city’s outer edges, often in disadvantaged areas, not in the downtown core.
“The image of child-rearing among same-sex couples is very ‘Modern Family,’ ” Gates said, referring to the TV show featuring a gay male couple with an adopted child. “But that’s not actually the bulk of parenting.”
More often, he said, it’s parents who had their kids young as part of a different-sex relationship before entering a same-sex relationship.
Because detailed census data are not available for all states, it’s too early to say how the District rates against the states on these measures. But even compared to other places where same-sex marriages are legal, D.C. has a high proportion of gay couples. Vermont, for instance, has 10.9 couples per 1,000 households, Massachusetts has 10.2, California has 9.98, New York and New Hampshire have 8.9, Connecticut has 7.84, Iowa has 5.35.
All of this, of course, comes with the usual caveats about comparing the urbanized District to much larger and more heterogenous states. Among cities, Gates said, the District is less of an outlier.
“D.C. is high,” he said, “but it’s not San Francisco, certainly,” which has more than 30 gay couples per 1,000 households.
Here’s the full report: