Gay and lesbian couples are slightly better educated than married heterosexual couples and earn similar paychecks, but they aren't as likely to own their homes, according to a study of Census Bureau data released Tuesday. In 2000 more than 35% of people living with same-sex partners had a college degree compared with 28% of opposite-sex married couples and 19% of opposite-sex unmarried couples, according to the analysis commissioned and released Tuesday by the Human Rights Campaign, a Washington, D.C.-based gay rights group. Median wages earned by gay and lesbian couples were equal to those of married heterosexual couples at about $32,000, $8,000 more than for opposite-sex unmarried couples. About 64% of same-sex couples owned their homes, compared with 78% of married partners and 41% of heterosexual unmarried couples.
The data were culled from detailed 2000 census data released for 15 states so far. The HRC study includes data from California, New York, and Texas--the states with the greatest number of same-sex couple households. Other states covered in the report were Vermont, Nebraska, Alabama, Florida, Illinois, Kansas, Maryland, New Jersey, Ohio, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, and Wyoming.
HRC strategist David Smith said the study shows that gay and lesbian couples are "a mirror image of the majority of families in the country" and should have the same benefits and protections. The 2000 census was the first in which the bureau extensively analyzed data for unmarried partners, regardless of sexual orientation.