Same-Sex Partners Small Portion of U.S. Households Even As Laws Change

Released: 
June 26, 2013

Same-sex partners make up less than 1 percent of U.S. households, but the laws surrounding those partnerships have changed significantly in the past six months.

Sometimes, facts change.

As a social issue, same-sex partnerships command much debate. The Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act and upheld a lower court's overturning of California's Proposition 8, a victory for advocates of same-sex partnerships. Some reports indicate that overall attitudes may have shifted on the issue - but what has definitely shifted is some of the numbers. 

This past November, we first ran this fact on same-sex partnerships. And as a demographic phenomenon, they are still a minor factor. Less than 1 percent of U.S. households in 2010 were made up of same-sex partners. 

The Census Bureau found in 2010 there were 131,729 married same-sex households and 514,735 households with unmarried partners of the same sex. More than 100,000 same-sex couples were raising children.

The big change has come in the laws. As of June, twelve states plus the District of Columbia now allow same-sex partners to marry. Three of those states changed their laws by referendum instead of legislative or judicial action. 37 states explicitly prohibit same sex marriages.

The last time we took a look at this fact, back on November 3, 2012, only six states and the District of Columbia allowed same-sex partners to marry, and 38 states explicitly prohibited same-sex marriages.

Today’s video includes more facts about the incidence of same-sex unions. It's a snapshot of where the issue was last year - take a look to see just how much things have changed in a little over six months. Then consider these questions in the discussion thread below: what role should the government play in regulating these partnerships? Now that DOMA is gone, what will happen to the number of same-sex partnerships on record?