The recently released data from the U.S. Census Bureau is the first comprehensive survey since NY State recognized the Marriage Equality Act in 2011
Recently released data from the U.S Census Bureau’s American Community Survey (ACS) shows the impact that the repeal of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) has had on the lives of same-sex couples. On Wednesday, NYC Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released his analysis, stressing the importance of the inclusion of questions on sexual orientation and gender identity in census data – something the Trump administration wants to abolish in the 2020 Census.
In 2011, New York State first recognized the right of same-sex couples to marry with the Marriage Equality Act which was followed by the two historic Supreme Court decisions that effectively repealed the Defense of Marriage Act. The legislation paved the way for same-sex couples to marry in all states and to obtain the same rights that had previously been accorded only to opposite-sex couples, including the ability to file joint tax returns and other federal benefits. Since then, the number of same-sex married couples has nearly doubled.
As the American Community Survey shows, which includes data obtained from 300,000 interviews in New York State, the number of same-sex married couples in New York City has grown from approximately 8,000 in 2012 to more than 16,000 in 2016. The biggest increase in marriages – a 28 percent jump – occurred in 2014, following the landmark Supreme Court decision “United States vs. Windsor” that effectively recognized same-sex marriages for federal purposes.
The survey also takes a look at the socioeconomic characteristics of same-sex married couples. According to the report, same-sex married couples in New York City have similar incomes compared to opposite-sex couples. One notable exception is Brooklyn where incomes for same-sex married couples far exceeded the city-wide average. The median income for same-sex couples in Brooklyn was almost double as high as for their counterparts. The huge income disparity can partly be explained by the higher prevalence of two-earner households among same-sex married couples.
While the Marriage Equality Act seemingly has brought significant economic benefits to same-sex couples, including the right to file taxes jointly, Stringer concludes that the benefits will be felt more in terms of the long-run implications that marriage will have on household formation, household size and stability/migration of residency, which is yet too early to assess. In his report he emphasizes, that more relevant data examining the lives of same-sex couples is needed.
“The data on same-sex couples provides useful insights to researchers across all fields, whether employed in academia, medicine, government/policy, marketing and real estate,” said Stringer in the report. “This underscores the need to obtain more data on same-sex couples at a time when the current Trump administration is planning to cut back on this valuable data.”
For the complete report provided by the American Community Survey, go here.
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