Wednesday, February 1, 2023
Feb. 1, 2023

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Washington among top 10 states with highest concentration of same-sex couples

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Friday marks 10 years since Washington’s first same-sex marriages took place.

In November 2012, Washington voters approved Referendum 74, legalizing same-sex marriage, three years before a U.S. Supreme Court ruling required all states to recognize same-sex marriages. The House on Thursday approved legislation that would protect the rights of same-sex unions, with President Joe Biden saying he will sign the bill.

Ten years after Referendum 74 was approved, data shows Washington is among the top 10 states when it comes to concentration of same-sex couples.

New data from the U.S. Census Bureau shows that in 2021 there were 21,500 married same-sex couples in Washington. The majority of these marriages — about 11,700, or 54% — were between women. The census only asks if respondents are male or female.

There were also around 12,900 unmarried same-sex couple households in the state. The majority of these — 7,200 couples, or 56%, were women.

In total, there were about 34,400 same-sex couple households (that’s both married and unmarried) in Washington, representing 1.1% of the state’s roughly 3 million households. That ranked as the ninth-highest percentage among states. Hawaii ranked No. 1 at 1.4%, followed by Delaware and Oregon, both at 1.3%. Washington, D.C., had a higher percentage than any state, with same-sex couples making up 2.5% of all households.

California had the largest number of same-sex couple households at 164,000, which amounts to 1.2% of the state’s households.

The lowest percentage of same-sex couple households was in South Dakota, at about .4%. North Dakota and Montana followed as the second- and third-lowest, both at .5% of households.

As you might expect, most of the same-sex couple households in Washington were in the Seattle area. About 20,100, or 58%, of the state’s same-sex couples lived in the Seattle metro area, which includes King, Pierce and Snohomish counties. Same-sex couple households represented 1.3% of the nearly 1.6 million households in the Seattle metro area.

Among the nation’s 50 most-populated metro areas, the highest percentage of same-sex couples was in San Francisco, at 1.7%, while Seattle ranked eighth.

In the city of Seattle, there were approximately 8,000 same-sex couples, representing 2.3% of all households.

The data comes from the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which showed there were about 1.2 million same-sex couple households in the United States in 2021. About 704,000 of these were married couples, and 502,000 were unmarried. This marks the first time the Census Bureau counted more than 1 million same-sex couple households.

The ACS is an annual survey sent to about 3.5 million households. Because of difficulties with data collection during the pandemic, the ACS was not released in 2020. But in 2019, the ACS showed about 980,000 same-sex couples in the U.S.

A new Census Bureau report on marriage shows some significant differences nationally between married heterosexual and same-sex couples.

For example, same-sex married couples were younger on average than heterosexual married couples. In same-sex marriages, the average age for female spouses was 47 and the average for male spouses was 48.6. In heterosexual marriages, the average age for spouses was 52.4.

Among married couples, heterosexual couples had the lowest median household income, at $102,800. Men married to men had the highest median household income at $125,700, while women married to women had a median of $103,300.

The report found 38% of married same-sex male couples were interracial, compared with 26% of married same-sex female couples. For married heterosexual couples, the figure was 18%.

Same-sex married couples were less likely to have children in the household. About 26% of female married couples had kids at home, while only about 9% of male married couples did. Thirty-eight percent of heterosexual married couples had children in the household.

The bipartisan legislation the House of Representatives approved Thursday to protect same-sex and interracial marriages had already been passed in the Senate. Biden said he will promptly sign the measure.

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