New Study Highlights Gay Poverty

By Julie Bolcer

Originally published on Advocate.com March 20 2009 12:00 AM ET

Findings released today
by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law show that
gay, lesbian, and bisexual Americans are as likely or even more
likely than heterosexuals to live in poverty. The authors of
the
report

describe it as the first study of its kind.

The report uses the
most recent data on same-sex unmarried partners from the 2000
Census and two other surveys to shatter the persistent myth of
gay affluence.

On the contrary, say
the authors, same-sex partners are more likely to be poor than
their heterosexual counterparts because they lack access to
safety nets such as a spouse's health insurance coverage
and Social Security survivor benefits.

Among the specific
findings are that lesbian couples are more likely to be poor
than married heterosexuals, and that children of same-sex
parents have twice the risk of living in poverty
compared to children of married heterosexual parents.

A poverty scholar from
the conservative Heritage Foundation dismissed the study as
"garbage," according to
USA Today,

because it looks only at couples and therefore does not compare
single gays to single mothers, a larger poverty
group.

According to the
authors, the report focuses on couples and not singles because
most nationwide surveys do not ask about sexual orientation, a
detail that is often revealed only in the context of asking
respondents questions pertaining to marriage and
cohabitation status.