Despite the commonly held perception that gays and lesbians are generally more affluent, a new study confirms that many live in poverty. The study was conducted by the Williams Institute of UCLA Law Scool.
Findings show that lesbian couples are more likely to be poor than straight married couples, and children of same-sex parents are twice as likely to live in poverty as those of straight married parents. According to the Williams Institute, this is the first study to analyze poverty among gays and lesbians.
“There are clearly many poor lesbian, gay and bisexual people,” says co-author Lee Badgett (right), an economist at the University of Massachusetts Amherst. “That alone is an important finding.”
Even though single mothers are most likely to be poor, Badgett says, the study did not focus on single lesbians and gay men because most population surveys don’t ask about sexual orientation unless respondents volunteer that they are living with a same-sex partner.
The report comes as the California Supreme Court weighs the legality of the state’s ban on gay marriage and a bill to outlaw job discrimination based on sexual orientation awaits action in Congress.
Badgett says same-sex partners are more likely to be poor because they lack such safety nets as a spouse’s health insurance coverage and Social Security survivor benefits.