By Neal Broverman
Originally published on Advocate.com January 10 2012 5:00 AM ET
The economy may slowly be getting its groove back, but many LGBT people will miss that rising tide. A recent report from the Half in Ten program — a campaign by the Center for American Progress and like-minded groups that aims to reduce poverty by half in 10 years — indicates that LGBT people, especially lesbians and transgender people, endure vast income inequality compared to their heterosexual peers.
"Lesbian couples tend to have much higher poverty rates than either heterosexual or male couples," according to the report, titled "Restoring Shared Prosperity: Strategies to Cut Poverty and Expand Economic Growth." "[Older] lesbian couples...are twice as likely as straight married couples to live in poverty."
The numbers, culled from the Williams Institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, indicated that up to 64% of transgender people make less than $25,000 a year. Also disturbing was the finding that children of gay couples are twice as likely to be poor as offspring of straight, married couples.
One of the solutions to this disparity is marriage equality, says Melissa Boteach, manager of Half in Ten.
"A married heterosexual couple with $45,000 in income filing their taxes jointly would get a $50 refund from the federal government," Boteach says. "A same-sex couple has to file separately and they would owe $2,165 in taxes."
Lesbian couples are especially hard-hit as women continue to make less than men — 78 cents to every dollar, according to Boteach. That difference is felt keenly in families where two women are raising children.
Half in Ten is calling for the passage of President Obama's American Jobs Act, which includes paid sick days for working parents.
"There are ways in which LGBT families have different needs, but there are certainly ways that they have the same needs as all Americans — good jobs and good wages," Boteach says.