Equal access to civil marriage would benefit all same-sex couples in New York State. Yet analysis of U.S. Census data on same-sex couple households indicates that those with the most at stake in the current debate are Black and Latino/a same-sex couples, and especially Black and Latina lesbian couples. This is because those in Black and Latino/a same-sex relationships are more likely to be raising children than White same-sex partners. They also earn less, on average, and are more likely to rent than own their home.
For these reasons, Black and Latino/a lesbian and gay couples have the most to gain from marriage equality. It would enable them to more readily access a partner’s health insurance, save money to purchase a home, and save for their children’s college education.
According to analysis of 2000 U.S. Census data on same-sex couple families, 14% of same-sex couples who self-identified were Black same-sex couples, and 17% were Latino/a same-sex couple families.
Higher rates of parenting
Among same-sex couple households of all races, about one-third of lesbian couples are raising children under 18, as are about one-fifth of gay male couples. Black and Latino/a lesbian and gay couples parent at higher rates, on average, than White same-sex couples.
Black lesbian couples: 52% are raising children
Latina lesbian couples: 54% are raising children
White lesbian couples: 32% are raising children
Black gay male couples: 36% are raising children
Latino gay male couples: 41% are raising children
White gay male couples: 18% are raising children
The ability to marry is especially important to parents, not only for the economic protections it gives, but also for the peace of mind it provides in the event of an accident, illness or death of a parent.
Lower income, lower rates of home ownership
Black lesbian couples earn about $21,000 less per year than White lesbian couples. Black gay male couples earn about $23,000 less than White gay male couples. Black same-sex couples also report lower rates of home ownership than White gay and lesbian couples. Latino/a same-sex couples also earn less than White non-Hispanic same-sex couples, and are also more likely to rent than own their homes.
A disproportionate racial impact of anti-gay discrimination
New York State’s refusal to legally recognize marriages of same-sex couples hurts all same-sex couples, but it disproportionately harms Black and Latino gay and lesbian families because of higher rates of parenting, lower income, and lower rates of home ownership. Marriage equality would afford lesbian and gay parents peace of mind, and also make it easier for these New York couples to save up to purchase a home, and to save for their children’s college education.
For more information, call Nathan Schaefer at GMHC’s Public Policy Department, at 212-367-1041.
Cahill, S. (2009). The Disproportionate Impact of Anti-Gay Family Policies on Black and Latino Same-Sex Couple Households. Journal of African American Studies. 13(3), 219-250.
Cianciotto, J. (2005). Hispanic and Latino Same-Sex Couple Households in the United States: A Report From the 2000 Census. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/HispanicLatinoHouseholdsUS.pdf
Dang, A. & S. Frazer. (2004). Black Same-Sex Households in the United States: A Report from the 2000 Census. New York: National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute. http://www.thetaskforce.org/downloads/reports/reports/2000BlackSameSexHouseholds.pdf