State of gay unions in the United States

  • Updated: November 7, 2008 - 4:30 PM

• About 85,000 same-sex couples nationwide have entered into a legally recognized relationship -- about 40 percent of couples living in states where such unions are legal and about 10 percent of all the nation's same-sex couples.*

• More than 27,000 same-sex American couples have been legally married nationwide (at least 16,000 in California and 11,000 in Massachusetts).*

• On Election Day this week, three states voted to add constitutional amendments banning gay marriage -- Arizona, Florida and California.

• The highest-profile of these amendments was the narrowly passed Proposition 8 in California, where gay marriage was legalized in May. California, the nation's most populous state, is seen as a harbinger of social change and was a hot destination this year for marriage-minded gays and lesbians.

• There are now 29 states with explicit constitutional bans on gay marriage, most passed within the past four years. They include Wisconsin, North Dakota and South Dakota.

• Minnesota and Iowa are among 15 states with laws restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

• Gay marriages are now legal in two states -- Massachusetts (since May 2004) and Connecticut (begins Wednesday) -- as well as in Canada (since 2005).

• Civil unions are legally recognized in New Hampshire, New Jersey and Vermont.

• Oregon, Washington, Hawaii, the District of Columbia and Maine have domestic-partnership laws granting gay couples varying degrees of spousal rights.

• Also on Election Day: Arkansas gays and unmarried straight couples were banned from adopting or fostering children.

* Source: The Williams Institute, UCLA College of Law.

... AND IN INNESOTA

There are no precise figures on how many same-sex couples in Minnesota have been married or participated in civil union ceremonies in other states and countries where gay marriage is legal. Here are a few statistics on the state's GLBT population, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (data are the latest available, from 2005).

• 175,611 people identifying themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual (single and coupled) live in Minnesota.

• More than 16,000 same-sex couples live in the state.

• There are more female couples (53 percent) than male (47 percent).

• The median income of same-sex coupled households is $72,390, compared with $62,760 for married couples.

• 86 percent of same-sex couples in the state are employed, compared with 73 percent of married individuals.

• 20 percent of same-sex couples are raising children under age 18.

KRISTIN TILLOTSON

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