Numbers on Same-Sex Marriage Finally Available Due to Tax Records

17:36 September 13, 2016
By: Anthony O'Donnell

Around 1/3 of one percent of marriages in 2014 were between members of the same sex, according to recently-released tax info from the Treasury Department. This is the first time the federal government has released data that gives a glimpse into how same-sex marriage has progressed since its nationwide legalization.

The Supreme Court ruled more than three years ago that the federal government was required to recognize marriages between same-sex couples, as long as they were legal under state law. But until now, the actual data on how many of these marriages happened wasn't public. Thanks to the Treasury Apartment, we now have a rough idea: around 183,355 same-sex marriages happened in 2014. More accurately, around 91,678 same-sex couples filed joint tax returns. There could be a number of uncounted same-sex couples that filed separately, but seeing as joint filing presents numerous advantages (and was one of the main rights that LGBT activists lobbied for prior to the Supreme Court verdict), the data is probably close to accurate. 97.5% of married couples file joint returns, according to Treasury estimates

The data is notable in part because it's extremely difficult to check the numbers on marriage nationwide, considering that county and state boards usually keep track of marriage records, and don't release anything other than the overall number of marriages. Along with the estimate on the overall number of same-sex marriages, the Treasury Department's report included figures on average income. Married gay men make more than lesbians, and a lot more than married straight couples; their combined income averages $176,000, $52,000 more than lesbian spouses and $63,000 more than married heterosexual couples. This can be attributed, at least partially, to the gender wage gap- men earn more than women, so two men earn a lot more than a man and a woman.

The data on married lesbians' earnings indicates another big difference: same-sex female couples are four times more likely to have children, meaning many have to make a choice between work and caring for a family. Meanwhile, same-sex male couples who have children are among the wealthiest. This is likely due to the near-prohibitive cost of even having children for gay male couples; surrogacy often costs around a quarter million, and adoption fees run around $30,000. As a result, only the wealthiest male couples go forward with having children. The data is rounded out by figures on location and age; gay male couples are much more likely to live in dense city centers, while lesbian couples gravitate to smaller towns. The average age for same-sex couples is 47, while straight couples average out at 51.

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