Nearly half of black same-sex couples listed in the 2000 Census lived in the same residence for at least five years--almost as high as for married black couples--and a majority of those households included children, according to a report released Wednesday.
The report from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force Policy Institute and the National Black Justice Coalition also found that black same-sex couples reported lower median incomes than either white same-sex couples or black married opposite-sex couples. "This report underscores the powerful negative impact of both racism and homophobia," said Matt Foreman, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, based in Washington, D.C. "The income disparity is profoundly disturbing."
Additionally, the report found that black same-sex couples--both female and male--were raising children at nearly twice the rate of their white counterparts: 61% to 31% for females and 46% to 24% for males.
Nearly 600,000 same-sex couples identified themselves in the 2000 Census. Of those, nearly 85,000, or 14%, included at least one black partner. In most cases both partners were black, though 21% of the couples were interracial. The numbers are in line with the 13% of the total U.S. population that is black.
Black male same-sex couples reported a median income of $49,000 a year, and black female couples earned $42,000 a year. In comparison, black married opposite-sex couples earned $51,000 a year and white same-sex couples averaged $69,000 a year.
The report found that 47% of black same-sex couples had lived in the same home for at least five years, almost as high a proportion as the 58% of black married couples who had lived in one place for five years. Only 19% of black unmarried cohabiting heterosexual couples reported living in the same place for five years. The report also noted that black women in same-sex couples reported high rates of military service.
Eleven percent of the black women in same-sex households were veterans, compared with 3% of black women married to male partners. Eighteen percent of the black men in same-sex households were veterans, compared with 31% of black married men. At the same time, the report noted that black women are discharged from the military under the "don't ask, don't tell" policy at disproportionate rates. Although they make up less than 1% of the military, 3% of those kicked out under "don't ask, don't tell" are black women. "Our families are stable, raising children, serving in the military, and yet are not being supported by government programs," Foreman said.
The report's authors concluded that antigay policies such as the proposed state and federal constitutional amendments to ban same-sex marriage would harm black same-sex couples disproportionately because they earn less money and have more children than white same-sex couples. "Removing discriminatory legislation and allowing black same-sex couples to access benefits available to married people will hurt no one and will allow more Americans to better support and protect their families," they said.