Report: Differences between gay and straight spouses disappear after legalization of gay marriage

Same-sex spouses were typically younger, had more education and were more likely to be employed than those in opposite-sex marriages, although many of those differences disappeared after the legalization of gay marriage in 2015, according to a new report released Tuesday by the U.S. Census Bureau.

Almost 1.5 million people lived with a same-sex spouse in the U.S. in 2022, double what it was in the year before gay marriage was legalized, according to the bureau's American Community Survey.

A 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court made same-sex marriages legal in all 50 states. In the year before that ruling, same-sex marriages had been legalized in just over a third of states through legislation and lower court rulings.

The 2015 Supreme Court decision proved to be a watershed, with around 41% of same-sex spouses reported in 2022 getting married within four years of the ruling. By comparison, 14% of those in opposite-sex marriages were married between 2015 and 2019, according to the Census Bureau report.

When just comparing marriages after the 2015 Supreme Court decision, many of the differences — including employment status, length of marriage and education levels among women — disappeared between same-sex spouses and opposite-sex spouses, the report said.

In addition, those in a same-sex marriage were older than their counterparts in opposite-sex marriages if they got married after 2015, a flip flop from all marriages regardless of the timeframe.

Any differences between gay and heterosexual marriages before the Supreme Court decision reflect the fact that same-sex marriage wasn't recognized in all states until 2015, according to the report.

“Generally, same-sex spouses and their households resemble those in opposite-sex couples,” the report said.

Regardless of when couples got married, opposite-sex spouses were more likely to have children and have larger households, and female same-sex spouses were more likely to have kids than male same-sex spouses. Same-sex spouses were more likely to share a home with roommates, according to the report.


Follow Mike Schneider on X, formerly known as Twitter: @MikeSchneiderAP.

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