Same-Sex Couples Still More Likely to be Poor, Study Finds
Gay and lesbian couples are more likely to live in poverty than straight couples, even after the recession, according to a new study by the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
The findings come four years after the institute put out an unprecedented study looking at poverty in the LGB community. This time around, researchers examined the issue post-recession and delved deeper into the "why," specifically considering whether or not workplace discrimination laws factor into socioeconomic status.
The findings? Not only did same-sex couples still fare worse than straight couples after the recession, but workplace nondiscrimination laws didn’t appear to have an effect; that’s because although gays and lesbians did better in states with such laws, so did everyone else.
Gender, race, education level and geography proved to be significant factors. Couples with two female earners, for example, who tend to make lower wages than men, are already at a significant disadvantage -- 7.6% of lesbian couples live in poverty, versus 5.7% of heterosexual married couples.
The study also found that 14.1 percent of lesbian couples receive food stamps, versus 7.7% of gay male couples and 6.5% of opposite-sex couples. African-American same-sex couples had a poverty rate more than twice that of straight African-American couples, and children of same-sex couples had higher rates of poverty than children of straight married couples. Same-sex couples with less education and living in rural areas also had higher rates of poverty.
Williams Institute Research Director M.V. Lee Badgett said while there are still many unanswered questions, the study highlights an under-acknowledged segment of the LGBT community: the poor.
"This makes poverty an LGBT issue in my mind," she said. "There’s a group in our community that’s often invisible: people living in poverty. They’re there, and just because we don’t see them or don’t know someone living below the poverty line, doesn’t mean they don’t exist."
She said pinning down exactly what about sexual orientation impacts poverty rates isn’t clear.