Data On Same-Sex Couples Still Hard To Come By

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When Simmons Market Research Bureau surveyed 3,896 gay and lesbian U.S. consumers in 1996, it found that 69% had life insurance and 77% had savings accounts.

Those appear to be some of the freshest, most detailed published figures available on the U.S. gay and lesbian financial services market.

Todd Evans, president of Rivendell Marketing Company Inc., Westfield, N.J., says the difficulty of finding hard data on gay and lesbian consumers is understandable, given the nature of the market.

“With any underserved community, statistics are very expensive, and it takes a long time to get them,” Evans says.

Evans, whose company places advertisements in a network of gay newspapers, is trying to work with an advertising agency, Prime Access Inc., New York, and Simmons Market Research Bureau, New York, to improve the quantity and timeliness of the data.

Rivendell and Prime Access will be helping Simmons reach gay and lesbian consumers with annual consumer surveys starting in 2002.

Craig Harper, executive vice president of custom research at Simmons, says the new, annual gay and lesbian market survey series is desperately needed.

Gay and lesbian publications have commissioned surveys for their own publications in the past five years, but Harper says he has a hard time thinking of any detailed, comprehensive, national surveys published more recently than the study Simmons released in 1996.

“Since that time, much has changed in the marketplace,” Harper says.

The U.S. Census Bureau began asking about same-sex partners in 1990. The latest census figures show that the number of gay and lesbian Americans who identify themselves as members of “same-sex, unmarried partner households” has increased dramatically.

At press time, the bureau had released 2000 census figures on same-sex partner households for 10 states and the District of Columbia, in tables drawn from Census 2000 Summary File 1, 100-Percent Data. (See chart on page 4.)

Same-sex partner households accounted for 82,401 households in the 11 jurisdictions included in the latest figures.

Only 0.6% of all household heads in the 11 jurisdictions said they were living together with partners of the same sex, but 10.6% of the heads of unmarried partner households were in same-sex unmarried partner households.

Back in 1990, only 0.2% of all U.S. households and 4.6% of unmarried partner households identified themselves as same-sex partner households, according to “1990 Census of Population: Social and Economic Characteristics, United States,” a report available on the Census Bureau Web site at http://www.census.gov/prod/cen1990/cp2/cp-2-1.pdf.

A much smaller 1999 “census dress rehearsal” survey of 1,179 same-sex couples in Sacramento, Calif., found that 26% of the couples had children under age 18, and 7.5% had children under age 6.

Thirty percent of the same-sex couples identified themselves as married. The Census Bureau edited the data to redefine the couples as same-sex, unmarried couples, because the federal Defense of Marriage Act of 1999 prohibits the bureau from recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages, according to “Unbinding the Ties: Edit Effects of Marital Status on Same Gender Couples,” a report available on the Web at http://www.census.gov/population/documentation/twps0034.html.

Members of the National gay Newspaper Guild, New York, an organization founded in 1988 to represent gay and lesbian newspapers, have commissioned several Simmons surveys of their readers over the years.

A 1992 survey found that readers of member publications were 9.1 times more likely than the average American to own an American Express Platinum Card credit card, and 3.9 times more likely to have a valid foreign passport.

Other guild surveys have found that the readers have an average annual household income of $63,700, and that 59.6% have four-year college degrees.


Reproduced from National Underwriter Life & Health/Financial Services Edition, July 6, 2001. Copyright 2001 by The National Underwriter Company in the serial publication. All rights reserved.Copyright in this article as an independent work may be held by the author.


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