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First-Ever In-Depth Study of Black Same Sex Households In U.S Reveals High Parenting Rates; Income Disparities

Black Couples Have Most at Stake In The Same Sex Marriage Debate, Census Analysis Shows

Task Force Communications Department
Sheri A. Lunn, Director of Communications


"This study disproves the myth that all gay people are White, wealthy, and have unstable relationships without children," said Task Force Executive Director, Matt Foreman

DOWNLOAD REPORT New York, October 6, 2004 - A groundbreaking study released today by the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Black Justice Coalition shows that Black lesbian couples are raising children at almost the same rate as Black married couples, and that Black same-sex couples raise children at twice the rate of White same-sex couples. They also earn less, are less likely to own a home, and are more likely to hold public sector jobs. For all these reasons, Black same-sex couples have more to gain from the legal protections of marriage, and more to lose if states pass amendments banning marriage and other forms of partner recognition.

The study, titled Black Same-Sex Households in the United States: A Report from the 2000 Census, is the first to analyze the demographics and experiences of Black same-sex households captured by the 2000 U.S. Census, the largest random sample dataset available on same-sex couples.

"As this landmark report makes clear, gay African-Americans are an active, involved, vibrant, and integral part of our communities. African-Americans make up 13% of the U.S. population. Black same-sex couples are 14% of all same-sex couples in the U.S. We are you," said H. Alexander Robinson, Strategic Director of the National Black Justice Coalition.

Black Same-Sex Households in the United States analyzes Census data on age, immigration status, language, disability, income, employment, home ownership, residential patterns, family structure, military service, and educational attainment for Black same-sex households. It compares Black same-sex households to White same-sex Households, Black married opposite-sex households, interracial same-sex households, Black opposite-sex cohabiting households, and Black single-parent households. The study reveals important and sometimes startling facts, including:

-Three in five Black female same-sex households (61%) are comprised of mothers raising children. Black lesbian couples are raising children at nearly the same rate as Black married opposite-sex couples (69%).

-Black same-sex couples earn about $20,000 less per year than White same-sex couples and are less likely to own the home they live in.

-Black same-sex couples are more likely than White gay couples to hold public sector jobs, which may provide domestic partner health insurance. Eight of the 11 state anti-gay marriage amendments on the ballot on November 2 ban or threaten domestic partner benefits provided through state and local governmental entities.

-Black same-sex couples are almost as likely as Black married opposite-sex couples to report living in the same residence as 5 years earlier, a key indicator of relationship stability.

"These facts underscore the hypocrisy and wrong-headedness of the Bush Administration's aggressive attempts to deprive same sex couples equal marriage rights while touting its multi-million dollar 'African-American Healthy Marriage Initiative' as a way to strengthen the African American family," said Matt Foreman, the Task Force's Executive Director. "This report clearly shows that denying the protections that come with marriage disproportionately hurts the ability of gay and lesbian African American couples to save money, provide for their children, buy a house, or prepare for retirement."

Black men and women in same-sex households are about 25% more likely than White men and women in same-sex households to have public sector jobs. Many municipalities and state governments now offer domestic partnership health insurance to employees in same-sex relationships. Because most of the anti-gay marriage amendments currently under consideration in the U.S. go beyond banning same-sex marriage and either ban or threaten domestic partner health insurance, such initiatives are a disproportionate threat to Black same-sex couples and their children.

An additional finding with important policy implications is that Black men and women in same-sex households report serving in the military at high rates despite the risk of losing their income and benefits because of the ban on lesbian and gay people serving openly. In fact, partnered Black women in same-sex households report veteran status at nearly four times the rate of Black women married to a man (11% vs. 3%). This finding is significant given that Black women are discharged from the military under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" at rates far exceeding their representation among servicemembers: although they make up less than one percent of the military, they represent three percent of all discharges under "Don't Ask, Don't Tell."

"Anti-gay leaders and organizations have long sought to divide the Black and gay communities, speaking as if there are no Black lesbian and gay people experiencing discrimination under key family policies. In fact, this study clearly identifies a large population of Black same-sex couples in the U.S., more than half of whom are raising children. These families should be offered the same protections and opportunities to benefit from state and federal programs designed to promote family formation, stability, home ownership, and other values that contribute to community strength and the common good," Mr. Robinson concluded.

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute is a think tank dedicated to research, policy analysis, and strategy development to advance greater understanding and equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people.

The National Black Justice Coalition is an ad hoc coalition of African-American gay and lesbian leaders committed to the development of policies and programs that seek to end discrimination in our communities.

Black Same-Sex Households in the United States: A Report from the 2000 Census was written by Alain Dang and Somjen Frazer. Census data were provided by Lopez and Cheung, Inc. The study is available at http://www.thetaskforce.org/library.

Founded in 1973, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was the first national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights and advocacy organization and remains the movement's leading voice for freedom, justice, and equality. We work to build the grassroots political strength of our community by training state and local activists and leaders and organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation. Our Policy Institute, the community's premiere think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a world that respects and makes visible the diversity of human expression and identity where all people may fully participate in society. Headquartered in Washington, DC, we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, and Cambridge.