The Sexist

We’re Number 1 In Gay Households


Today's Economist graph ran the numbers on the prevalence of same-sex households across the United States. According to the data, collected by the Williams Institute, Washington, D.C. has the highest concentration of gay households—14 out of 1,000. If that number sounds small to you, keep in mind that the data excludes single gay men and women. This study is only concerned with American households run by gay couples.

D.C. far outstrips the national average. In America, only 4.7 per 1,000 households are run by gay couples who identify each other as either "spouse" or "partner." D.C.'s number are nearly double the second-highest jurisdiction, Maine, which boasts a rate of 8.3 per 1,000. Compare those numbers to the roster of states that can't even muster up three gay households per 1,000: Alabama, Arkansas, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, and West Virginia.

I'm sure that plenty of fundies (do fundies read the Economist?) will look at this graph and say, "I knew it. All the gays are concentrated in those godless coastal areas, but at least they're staying away from good 'ol Alabama." But what the graph actually indicates is how many closeted gays are living lives of quiet desperation (or having hot, anonymous sex) right in the conservatives' backyards. As one commenter writes:

Unfortunately this graph can easily mislead. A distribution map of gay couples is really showing where gay relationships are more socially (and legally) acceptable, not where 'gayness' itself resides. A social conservative in Idaho may see this graph and comfort himself that he and his state are "safe" and that there is no need to acknowledge, much less accommodate homosexuality. The tragic story of Senator Craig demonstrates how mistaken this can be.

The Economist notes that the very action of legalizing same-sex marriages or civil unions tends to encourage coupling up. "Those states where gay marriage is legal or where same-sex partnerships are recognised have a higher proportion of same-sex couples than the national average of 4.7," says the magazine. If a state recognizes same-sex coupledom, it either inspires an influx of out-of-state gays, or encourages locals to come out as couples. Which means that if D.C.'s gay marriage legislation is passed, our fair city may stand to get even gayer. Take that, haters.

(You can read the full Williams Institute study here [PDF]).

  • Reid

    While it's great that we're better than the national average, I'd be more interested in how we stack up against other cities. Charts like these always fall for the whole apples-to-oranges problem inherent in comparing a slice of a metropolitan area (i.e. the District) against states.

    I'd suspect that there are plenty of cities or towns that exceed our numbers. Particularly if we consider the more statistically relevant metropolitan area, not the District itself.

    I also suspect if it were broken down by city/town, not state, you'd see a lot more hotspots (for lack of a better term) across the country.

  • Adrian Bent-Me

    Reid- We should just be happy that we're finally number one in something. Years of being the City was the worst public schools, homeownership rate, crime level, income disparity. Damn, I'm just relieved we've broken the curse.

  • Amanda Hess

    I'm not too concerned about the city thing. I actually think D.C. provides an interesting counterpoint in state-based studies for that very reason---we're different. But I would like to see how gay households stack up against straight households. In the study, I couldn't find any data about how many straight, coupled households are in Washington D.C. (or elsewhere).

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