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Canada tracks gay

Canada tracks gay

Canadian gay men and lesbians are coupling up, or at least standing up to be counted, at five times the rate of their straight counterparts, according to a 2006 census that tracked same-sex marriages there for the first time.

The number of same-sex couples, both married and unmarried, surged 32.6% between 2001 and 2006, five times the pace of opposite-sex couples, Statistics Canada reported Wednesday.

Canada's 2006 census counted same-sex married couples in line with the national legalization of same-sex marriage on July 20, 2005.

In total, the census enumerated 45,345 same-sex couples--0.6% of all couples in Canada--of whom 7,465, or 16.5%, were married couples, the agency said.

That's similar to Australia and New Zealand but less than the United States, whose roughly 594,000 same-sex-partner households form about 1% of the total, according to the 2000 U.S. Census.

Half of all Canadian same-sex couples lived in the three largest metro areas, Montreal, Toronto, and Vancouver. Nearly 54% of the couples were male. But same-sex couples with children were eight times more likely to be female, the census found. About 9% of people in same-sex pairings had children 24 years or younger living with them.

The official figures are considerably lower than those researched by the now-defunct rights group Canadians for Equal Marriage, the Canadian Press reported. That advocacy group reported in November that 12,438 marriage licenses had been granted to same-sex couples since courts in some provinces began recognizing such unions in 2003.

That's partly because another advocacy group, Egale Canada, objected to the differentiation and advised gay and lesbian spouses to simply tick off the census box marked "husband and wife."

"One box for everybody," executive director Helen Kennedy told the Canadian Press. "People are people and people just want the same things out of life. Your sexual orientation should not matter."

Anne Milan, a senior analyst at Statistics Canada, said it's "difficult to say" what effect Egale's dissent had on the numbers.

"It's really a debate that hopefully has run its course. We're just part of the boring middle class now," Michael Leshner, a lawyer and one of Canada's first legally married gay men, told the news service.

On July 20, 2005, Canada became the fourth country to legalize same-sex marriage, behind the Netherlands, Belgium and Spain. South Africa has since followed suit, and Israel recognizes same-sex marriages officiated in other countries. (Barbara Wilcox, The Advocate)

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