Study: Same-sex couples face higher poverty rates


by Andy Birkey | March 25, 2009 • A study released on Friday (PDF) by the Williams Institute at the UCLA College of Law found that gay and lesbian couples face higher rates of poverty than heterosexual married couples.

Andy Birkey lives in Minneapolis. He is an LGBT community advocate and blogs on politcial, social, and community issues. Read his blog at Eleventh Avenue South

“The myth of gay and lesbian affluence is just that – a myth,” said the study’s authors. “Lesbian, gay and bisexual individuals are as likely to be poor as are heterosexuals, while gay and lesbian couple households, after adjusting for the factors that help explain poverty, are more likely to be poor than married heterosexual couple households.

Children living in a same-sex household had poverty rates that were twice as high as those of married couples. One in five children in same-sex families was poor compared to one in ten for married families.

The poverty rate for lesbian families is 9.4 percent compared to 6.7 percent for those in married families.

Twenty-four percent of lesbians and bisexual women faced poverty compared to 19 percent of women nationally.

Gay and bisexual men had poverty rates of 15 percent compared to 13 percent of all men.

“The social and policy context of LGB life provides many reasons to think that LGB people are at least as likely — and perhaps more likely — to experience poverty as are heterosexual people: vulnerability to employment discrimination, lack of access to marriage, higher rates of being uninsured, less family support, or family conflict over coming out,” the study concluded. “All of those situations could increase the likelihood of poverty among LGB people.”