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Hispanic gay
couples struggle more than white counterparts

Hispanic gay
couples struggle more than white counterparts

A proposed constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in Texas could hurt gay Hispanic couples more than Anglos because they have more children, make less money, and are less likely to be U.S. citizens, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force said Tuesday. The group issued a report derived from 2000 U.S. Census data on Hispanic self-identified same-sex couple households a week before Texans vote on amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage, which is already against state law.

The Census found about 105,000 U.S. same-sex couple households in which at least one partner was Hispanic. Most were in the Los Angeles, New York, and Miami areas, but Houston, Dallas, and San Antonio were among the top 10. The study concluded that the many benefits of marriage, such as tax advantages, the Family and Medical Leave Act, and Social Security survivor benefits, would be especially helpful to a large number of Hispanic same-sex couples.

The data showed that 66% of Hispanic female couples and 58% of Hispanic male couples were raising at least one child. That compares with 32% of Anglo lesbian couples and 19% of Anglo male couples, report author Jason Cianciotto said. Gay and lesbian couples in which both partners were Hispanic reported annual household incomes in the high $30,000s, more than $20,000 less than same-sex couples who were either white or had just one Hispanic partner. "Certain Americans are disadvantaged because of their racial or ethnic heritage," Cianciotto said. "When you combine that with the disadvantages people face because they are gay or lesbian, it becomes this double-edged sword."

But Pastor Adalid Verastegui of New Life United Methodist Church in Houston said his Hispanic congregants believe the proposed amendment to ban same-sex marriage is a good idea. "The Hispanic tradition is to always have in the family a man and a woman in the home," he said. "Our culture doesn't accept this kind of behavior."

In Hispanic same-sex couples, 51% of the men and 38% of the women were not U.S. citizens, compared with less than 10% each for Anglo gays and lesbians. Sergio Sarmiento, a Colombian immigrant, said his six-year relationship nearly ended because of his immigration status. Immigration policy does not give status to same-sex partners of U.S. citizens. "Living day by day with the worry that your family can be broken apart is a very difficult situation," said Sarmiento, who got his immigration status resolved last year. "People in the Hispanic community, like me, are more vulnerable." (AP)

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