The most incisive guide to issues facing the American family today . . . An invaluable resource for anyone wishing to stay on the cutting edge of research on family trends.

-W. Bradford Wilcox
Associate Professor of Sociology, University of Virginia 

Numbers Don’t Justify Same-Sex Marriage

Bryce J. Christensen and Robert W. Patterson

Every four years, the media hector GOP presidential candidates and nominees for their views on same-sex marriage. The presumption is that the GOP platform, which has opposed changing the legal definition of marriage to suit the liberal imagination, is unfair to minorities, in this case, “sexual minorities.” Yet the latest data from the U.S. Census Bureau indicates that the numbers of same-sex households that would actually seek such a classification is so microscopic that one wonders why the media are so preoccupied with the matter.

Dramatically lowering former guesses of the number of same-sex households, the U.S. Census Bureau last fall released numbers, based upon the 2010 census, estimating that the United States has 646,464 same-sex households, including 131,729 same-sex couples who have been “married” in states that sanction such relationships. The actual Census numbers come in a bit higher than those arising out of 2010 data from the bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS), which claims 593,324 same-sex households, including 42,195 same-sex “married” households.

These numbers mean that between 515,000 and 551,000 U.S. households represent “unmarried” same-sex couples, households that would supposedly benefit if same-sex marriage were imposed upon all fifty states. When compared to Census Bureau data indicating a total of 117.5 million households in the country in 2010, that means that only about four- or five-tenths of 1 percent of households could take advantage of being granted the legal status of same-sex marriage.

Other Census Bureau data confirm the numerical insignificance of these households. A paper on ACS data for 2010 reports that vital-statistics records show that less than 50,000 same-sex marriages were recorded by civil authorities in the United States from 2004 and 2010. That compares to about 14 million natural marriages that were recorded during the same period, meaning that marriages that are deemed same-sex represent less than four-tenths of 1 percent of natural marriages.

These tiny numbers debunk any notion that the electorate is demanding action on what the media consider a substantive civil-rights issue. The general population mainfests no groundswell of interest in same-sex marriage. More to the point, the numbers suggest that not even the small percentage of Americans who identify themselves as homosexual seem all that interested.

(Daphne Lofquist, “Same-Sex Couple Households,” American Community Survey Briefs, U.S. Census Bureau, September 2011.)