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January 25, 2008

Ohio same-sex pairs are more diverse; a quarter have children

“We are everywhere,” proclaimed an early gay movement motto. A look at census figures proves that true in Ohio.

From the mountains of Appalachia to the cornfields near Indiana, all of the state’s 88 counties are home to gay and lesbian couples.

Even the county with state’s smallest population--Vinton--has 18 couples. And this is not the fewest: That honor goes to Noble County, with 15.

The state’s three large cities have the most couples, as would be expected. Franklin County (Columbus) tops the list with 3,241, then Cuyahoga (Cleveland) at 2,694, followed by Hamilton (Cincinnati) with 1,620 couples.

Although Cuyahoga has the second-largest number of lesbian and gay couples, Delaware County north of Columbus had the second-highest percentage, with 0.55 percent of all couples being gay or lesbian, compared to Franklin’s 0.74 percent.

The figures come from a January 22 “census snapshot” by the Williams Institute of the University of California-Los Angeles School of Law, illustrating the prevalence of domestic partners throughout the state.

The report draws on data from the 2000 Census and from the 2005 American Community Survey, a government study that serves as a mini-census in between the official counts every ten years.

Although the U.S. Census does not ask about people’s sexual orientation, it does record gender and a household member’s relationship to “Person Number 1,” who fills out the survey. Along with “son or daughter” “spouse” and “roommate” among the options is “unmarried partner.”

The 2000 census showed 18,937 same-sex couples living in Ohio, but in 2005 there were 30,669, which the study says “reflects same-sex couples’ growing willingness to disclose their partnerships on government surveys.”

Almost one quarter of the couples are raising children, although they have less access to economic resources to assist their families than do their heterosexual counterparts.

While just less than one-tenth of heterosexual married couples in the state are non-white, the study found more racial diversity among domestic partners, with 14 percent of same-sex couples being non-white.

Women in same-sex couples on average earned more than their married, heterosexual counterparts, earning an average of $30,160 annually compared to $24,275 for married women. However, in men, the numbers were reversed, with heterosexual married men earning an average $48,226 compared to men in same-sex couples who earned an average $33,644.

Off-setting the difference in male salary, and accentuating the differences in female salary, 79 percent of people in same-sex couples were employed, compared to only 66 percent in heterosexual marriages.

On the other hand, 86 percent of married heterosexual couples own their homes, compared to only 58 percent of same-sex couples.

The study also makes note of similarities between the two groups, like financial interdependence, the percentage of couples with at least one disabled person and other factors.

The study estimates that, as of 2005, 11,950 children are being raised by lesbian and gay couples, but that the median income of those couples is 25 percent less than that of the median household income of heterosexual married couples with children.

“Census data provide valuable information about gay and lesbian couples in Ohio,” the report concludes. “While in many respects Ohio’s same-sex couples look like married couples, same-sex couples--especially those with children--have fewer economic resources to provide for their families than their married counterparts and lower rates of homeownership.”

The Williams Institute has already completed analyses of same-sex couples in 22 other states and the District of Columbia.



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