Scroll To Top
Women

Proudly Out: Myth Busters..Are Lesbians and Gays that Poor?

Proudly Out: Myth Busters..Are Lesbians and Gays that Poor?

A recent study by the Williams Institute out of the UCLA Law School has also given us one more item for our list of great equalizers—lesbians and gay are also poor. The myth that all gays and lesbians are affluent with lots of disposable income is just that--a myth. 

OK, so what I’ve been saying for years--that we’re just like everyone else--really is true.

We’re black, white, Hispanic, Asian American and every other race and ethnicity. We’re Catholic, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, Protestant and, yes, even some of us are born again. We’re professionals, we’re blue collar workers, we’re service workers, we’re pink collar boys and girls. Some of us have kids, some don’t. Some of us are able bodied. Some of us are disabled.

A recent study by the Williams Institute out of the UCLA Law School has also given us one more item for our list of great equalizers—lesbians and gay are also poor.

The myth that all gays and lesbians are affluent with lots of disposable income is just that--a myth. The study, conducted by the only think tank that advances critical thought in the field of sexual orientation law and public policy, has found that lesbians, gays and bisexuals are just as likely to be poor as our straight counterparts.

Because it is so difficult to gather statistical information on transgender people, they were not included in the study but one can make the assumption that they are at higher risk of economic insecurity and unemployment simply because of who they are. 

The initial findings, based on analyzing data from the 2000 U.S. Census, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and the 2003 and 2005 California health Interview Surveys, found that poverty rates for lesbian, gay and bisexual adults are as high or higher than rates for heterosexual adults. Those rates are also comparable or higher for same-sex couples when compared to heterosexual couples.

 


more on next page...

\\\

(continued)

 

It was not surprising that lesbians are in worse economic shape. Looking just at the percentage of couples living below the poverty line, lesbian couples have a poverty rate of 6.9 percent compared to 5.4 percent for straight married coupled and 4 percent for gay male couples. When the poverty rates for all members of the family—adults and children—were calculated, the poverty rate for lesbian families is 9.4 percent compared to 6.7 percent for straight families and 5.5 percent for gay male families.

The study also found that poverty rates for children of same-sex couples are twice as high as poverty rates for children of heterosexual married couples. In fact, one out of every five children under the age of 18 living in a same-sex couple family is poor compared to almost one in ten (9.4 percent) children who are the progeny of straight married couple.

African-Americans in same-sex couples and gay or lesbian couples living in rural areas also have particularly high poverty rates.

None of this should be particularly surprising. Why shouldn’t we be subject to poverty and economic hardship when job discrimination based on sexual orientation is systemic in so many parts of the country? And those benefits that straight married people take for granted—social security, pensions, no inheritance taxes up to a certain point, all kinds of benefits at work—they’re not available to us. We have to pay big time when we inherit and get nothing when it comes to social security survivor benefits.

It seems to me that providing marriage equality to lesbians and gay men would help stabilize our economic status. We’d be able to cast off the economic yoke that those who want to keep us marginalized are so invested we maintain even though they don’t want to own up that we too are burdened by the economic realities of our times.

Over the at the Heritage Foundation, the right wing’s well funded conservative thinking think tank, one of its scholars, according to a piece in USA Today, dismissed the study as “garbage” because it looked only at couples and doesn’t compare single gays to single mothers.

Well the folks at Williams would have loved to compare the economic status single gays and lesbians to single moms but there’s no data because most nationwide surveys do not ask about sexual orientation.

Indicative of the difficulty in getting solid statistical data on the LGBT community, the folks over at the U.S. Census recently announced that they would waste precious taxpayer dollars to remove any same-sex couple from being listed as married in the 2010 census.

This is a Bush hold-over. So, Barack, now that the U.S. will sign the U.N. resolution decriminalizing homosexuality how about taking a baby step back here in the states? All we need is one of your executive orders and our relationships will count, at the very least, in the Census which would be another small step in being just like everyone else.

 

Advocate Channel - The Pride StoreOut / Advocate Magazine - Fellow Travelers & Jamie Lee Curtis

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

author avatar

Libby Post