A new survey has found that two thirds of the same-sex couples who applied for marriage licenses in Massachusetts on May 17--the first day gay and lesbian couples could legally be issued marriage licenses in the country--were women and that 40% of those female couples said they had children in their households.
"To the extent that people associate marriage with children and the stability that marriage provides when you're raising children, you might see women more likely to be getting married, because the female couples are more likely to have the children," said Gary Gates, a demographer at the Urban Institute in Washington, D.C., and the author of the recently published Gay and Lesbian Atlas.
Overall, one third of the 752 couples surveyed in 11 cities and towns from Provincetown on Cape Cod to Springfield in western Massachusetts had children living with them, according to The Boston Globe. The newspaper found a total of 403 children whose parents applied for licenses to be married. Gates said the results of the Globe survey largely correspond to what researchers already know about the gay and lesbian population in Massachusetts and the nation as a whole.
In explaining the male-female disparity found in the poll, Gates said that according to national surveys, 43% of lesbians are "coupled" at any one time, compared with 23% of gay men.
The survey also found:
-Half of the same-sex couples who applied Monday for marriage licenses had been together for at least a decade.
-The predominant age group was 40 to 49 years old; the median age was 43.
-Ninety percent of the couples surveyed said they lived in Massachusetts. (However, 34% of the couples in Provincetown said neither applicant was a Massachusetts resident.)
-Thirty percent of the women surveyed said they once had been in a heterosexual marriage, compared with 19% of the men. Twelve percent said they had been in a civil union together.
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