Wisconsin Second in Pop. Growth of Gay Couples

A new population survey, released by the Williams Institute, finds significant growth in the number of lesbian and gay couples nationwide.

From the 2000 U.S. Census to 2005, the number of self-reporting lesbian and gay couples grew by more than 30 percent, from nearly 600,000 in 2000 to almost 777,000 in 2005. (Note: this counts couples only--not all LGBT people--and for obvious reasons any figures available underestimate the actual number of gay couples.)

The Williams Institute analyzed new data from the American Community Survey, which is part of the U.S. Census Bureau. Their press release offers an overview of what they found.

The largest percentage increases occurred in the Midwest, an area that had relatively low rates of same-sex couples in Census 2000. Six of the eight states with a 2006 ballot initiative that would ban gay unions experienced increases in the number of same-sex couples in excess of the national rate of 30 percent.

You can download the full report here, but here are the Wisconsin findings:
  • Wisconsin ranks number two out of all 50 states (second only to New Hampshire) in the percentage increase of gay couples since 2000.

  • In 2000, 8,232 Wisconsin same-sex couples were identified by the U.S. Census. In 2005, the number is 14,894. Of those, 6,909 are male couples, and 7,985 are female.

  • The survey looked at the 50 largest metropolitan areas. Milwaukee proper has 1,804 couples, but the greater Milwaukee area has 3,786.

  • The survey offers a breakdown by Congressional district--the first time figures are available for current districts:
For more information on the districts, check out this webpage.

(There are some surprises in here, right? For example, why does the very rural CD 7 have the second highest number of gay couples? Likewise for the Green Bay district that stretches up to the U.P.)

Overall, the study underscores two things.

It gives us some hard figures for all those families in this state who would be most affected by the civil unions and marriage ban. It brings home our point that this has never been an abstract debate about judges in other states or the “sanctity of marriage.” At the very least, it's about 14,894 families here who don't seem to be hurting anyone.

Also, the survey suggests more and more gay people are willing to be open about their families. It's unlikely that the 81% increase in the percentage of gay couples is attributable to people moving here. Instead, it's much more likely that more gay families are willing to identify themselves. Hopefully, if those families are willing to be out on a government survey, they're also being more open with people in their communities. The number one correlation to being a no voter is knowing gay people, especially knowing them well.

Maybe this long debate has encouraged more people to step forward and be open about their families.

Wisconsin Public Radio did a short piece on the survey. Here's the audio clip.


At 12:28 PM, Blogger Kevin said...


One suggestion, after the Representative's name, it may not hurt to put their party affiliation.

It's an interesting survey. One thing about this is that it could show that from 2000 to 2005, either more were open about their sexuality or more couples were formed. Be fun to see the comparison of how many male/female couples were married during this time as well.

At 3:42 PM, Blogger Joshua Freker said...

Good idea. I just made the additions and added links.

At 9:40 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have been watching the amendmant debate for sometime now and would like to give my comments.
First, I have seen the brocure handed out be the group to protect marriage. My question is; how can they use a brochure with a white woman and an African American man on the front to promote traditional marriage. Do they not know that "mixed" marriages where illegal in some states until the late 1960's? How is that traditional? I feel it is a disgrace to that group that with all the homelessness in our state(families included) and people dying because they don't have medical insurance that they would use their time and resources to be so hateful to others because they are not the same as themselves. I appreciate all the work that has been done by Fair Wisconsin and will continue to support your efforts.


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