The U.S. Census Bureau on Tuesday
released new statistics on gay and lesbian couples, prompting renewed
calls for more states to legalize gay marriage.
The agency said there were 131,729 gay
married households and 514,735 gay unmarried partner households in
the United States. Massachusetts, the first state to legalize gay
marriage in 2005, had the highest rate of married couples in gay
households (43%), and Maine had the lowest (10.3%).
The revised figures are about 25% lower
than the bureau's initial estimates released earlier this month.
Flaws and inconsistencies in the surveys were to blame for the
discrepancy, the agency said.
However, officials stood by their
assessment that gay households are growing.
“There's no dispute that the same-sex
couples population increased between 2000 and 2010,” Martin
O'Connell, chief of the bureau's fertility and family statistics
branch. “We're trying to get a better grip on the actual numbers
and the actual increase.”
Marriage equality proponents used the
figures to advocate for greater access to the protections of marriage
for gay couples.
“The Census Bureau's most recent
estimates of same-sex couples reiterate the need to end marriage
discrimination once and for all,” said Evan Wolfson, president of
Freedom to Marry. “The number of gay and lesbian couples in
committed, loving relationships, raising families together, continues
to grow, leaving more and more families without the critical
safety-net of marriage.”
“These findings also confirm that
those who most need the support marriage offers – particularly in
these tough economic times – live in the places with the fewest
protections. The South is home to more gay parents than any other
region in the nation. And yet, these families are not only
discriminated against by their home states, which exclude them from
marriage and bar even lesser protections such as civil union and
domestic partnership, but are also targeted for an additional layer
of discrimination from the federal government under the so-called
Defense of Marriage Act,” he added.
Currently, only six states and the
District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. Roughly 18,000 gay
couples married in 2008 in California before voters approved
Proposition 8, which rolled back a state Supreme Court ruling
legalizing such nuptials.