Latest Census Figures Continue to Show Dramatic Increase in Reporting of Same-Sex Partner Households

June 21, 2001

Figures out of eight states plus D.C. released this week demonstrate increasingly diverse face of the 21st Century family

The latest statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week show a dramatic and unprecedented increase in the number of reported same-sex partner households in eight states plus Washington, D.C. These figures reinforce a trend first detailed last week, when statistics from the states of Delaware and Vermont were released.

The new data show that the number of respondents who reported in the year 2000 that they make up same-sex partner households increased since 1990 by more than 700 percent in Nevada; more than 500 percent in Louisiana; more than 400 percent in Indiana and Nebraska; more than 300 percent in Montana; more than 200 percent in Connecticut, Illinois and Massachusetts; and about 66 percent in Washington, D.C. The new statistics reveal the most comprehensive picture ever recorded of the changing nature of the U.S. family in the 21st Century.

U.S. Census Bureau data documenting same-sex partner households has now been released from 10 states plus Washington, D.C. Figures released last week showed a 781 percent increase in Delaware and a 422 percent increase in Vermont.

NOTE TO EDITORS: The exact figures from the states released by the U.S. Census Bureau this week are included at the end of this press release.

"For the first time ever, government has begun documenting the 21st Century family," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force. "The dramatic increase in same-sex partner households reflected in these Census figures shows that one of our primary mandates is to ensure that every gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender family receives the same services, benefits and treatment given to other families."

Paula Ettelbrick, NGLTF's family policy director, noted that the U.S. Census does not count single GLBT people, but since 1990 has counted unmarried, same-sex partner households. In 1990, the category of "unmarried partner" appeared on the Census form for the first time. Approximately 150,000 households nationwide self-reported as same-sex unmarried partners - a severe undercount compounded by the U.S. Census Bureau's disqualification of same-sex couples who marked "spouse" to describe their relationship. This year, Ettelbrick noted, the Census reported that it would change same-sex partners who marked "spouse" to "unmarried partner," resulting in a better count.

"The Census numbers reflect the changing face of our society," Ettelbrick said. "As a community, we clearly shifted our focus in the 1990s to securing our family relationships through domestic partner benefits, adoption rights and same-sex marriage. The Census numbers mirror the unprecedented rise in the visibility of our families during the past decade."

Ettelbrick added that one of the significant trends found in the data is the presence of same-sex couples living in the vast majority of small towns and rural areas, in addition to living in mid-sized and large cities where popular stereotype views them residing.

More data documenting the number of same-sex partner households in Alabama, Kansas, Missouri, Ohio and New York is scheduled to be released Wednesday, June 27. A schedule for the remaining states has not been announced yet.

"Public policy flows from the U.S. Census," Jean explained. "If we are not counted, we lose out on federal funding for research, funding for community services and passage of laws that benefit our community. We also sacrifice important opportunities for more equitable political representation of our community."

During the spring of 2000, the NGLTF Policy Institute and the Institute for Gay and Lesbian Strategic Studies sponsored a nationwide campaign called Make Your Family Count!. This public education campaign, which reached approximately 18 million newspaper readers, was aimed at encouraging same-sex couples within GLBT communities to be counted in the U.S. Census.

The statistics released Wednesday show:

  • In Connecticut, a 254 percent increase, from 2,088 to 7,386 same-sex partner households.

  • In the District of Columbia, a 66 percent increase, from 2,213 to 3,678 same-sex partner households.

  • In Illinois, a 268 percent increase, from 6,220 to 22,887 same-sex partner households.

  • In Indiana, a 428 percent increase, from 1,935 to 10,219 same-sex partner households.

  • In Louisiana, a 562 percent increase, from 1,331 to 8,808 same-sex partner households.

  • In Massachusetts, a 229 percent increase, from 5,194 to 17,099 same-sex partner households.

  • In Montana, a 326 percent increase, from 286 to 1,218 same-sex partner households.

  • In Nevada, a 711 percent increase, from 613 to 4,973 same-sex partner households.

Released on June 13:

  • In Delaware, a 781 percent increase, from 212 to 1,868 same-sex partner households.

  • In Vermont, a 422 percent increase, from 370 to 1,933 same-sex partner households.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.