A New York Times article recently reported that gay parents find the south more welcoming - specifically, Jacksonville, Florida - word?!? I have to admit that this piece particularly caught me off guard because it's, frankly, unexpected. Perhaps, its because of my own stereotypes of the South but you can't argue with data. The news story reports that demographers sifted through recent data releases from the Census Bureau, and found that Jacksonville is home to one of the biggest populations of gay parents in the country.
In 2009, the Census Bureau estimated that there were 581,000 same-sex
couples in the United States, Mr. Gates said; the bureau does not count
gay singles. About a third of lesbians are parents, and a fifth of gay
men are. About 32 percent of gay couples in Jacksonville are
raising children, said Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles, citing the 2009 Census data, second
only to San Antonio, where the rate is about 34 percent.
When I think of the South, and this could be my prejudice, but I don't think of the South as that progressive with gay rights. Some of Census' data Experts offer theories for the pattern:
- A large number of gay couples,
possibly a majority, entered into their current relationship after first
having children with partners in heterosexual relationships. That seemed to be the case for many blacks and Latinos in
Jacksonville, for whom church disapproval weighed heavily.
- In addition, the data show, child rearing among same-sex couples is more common in the South than in any other region of the country, according to Gary Gates, a demographer at the University of California, Los Angeles. Gay couples in Southern states like Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas are more likely to be raising children than their counterparts on the West Coast, in New York and in New England.
Black or Latino gay couples are twice as likely as whites to be raising
children, according to Mr. Gates, who used data from a Census Bureau
sampling known as the American Community Survey. They are also more
likely than their white counterparts to be struggling economically.While its gay residents remained largely hidden, it had a gay-friendly church.
It's no surprise that married same-sex parents face legal hurdles. Florida does not recognize same-sex marriage, and its domestic partnership recognition, while growing, is an uneven patchwork, and still leaves many spouses uninsured.
Well, I'd like to the thank the Census for educating me on my ignorance of the South. You guys are far more progressive than I thought. Well done!