Study Examines Gay Affluence Myth

The Washington Blade has an interesting article on the myth of gay affluence.  A recently published survey by the Williams Institute of UCLA reveals that the percentage of lesbian and gay families living in poverty is significantly higher than same sex families.

A new report from a think-tank on sexual orientation reveals how poverty is affecting gay people in the United States.

The report, released Friday by the Williams Institute at the University of California in Los Angeles, found that lesbian couples are more likely to be living in poverty than other couples.

The analysis found that 7 percent of lesbian couples are living below the poverty line, compared to 4 percent of gay male couples and 5 percent of opposite-sex couples.

The study also found that after “adjusting for a range of family characteristics that help explain poverty,” same-sex couples are “significantly” more likely to be poor than opposite-sex married couples.

Also, the study found that children of gay couples are living in poverty at a rate that is twice as much as the children of straight married couples.

The Blade article goes on the make the logical conclusion that as women, on average, earn less than men so two women living together are likely to earn less than a man and a woman pooling their earnings as well as two men. 

This study uses data collected before the current economic recession so it might be particularly useful to put this in perspective on how plans to revitalize the economy impact LGBTQ families. 

I find this examination of socioeconomic status interesting because of my work in the human services field.  The ability of low and moderate income LGBTQ families (and individuals) to access services and resources becomes even more acute when you factor in the double negative of being poor and queer in a society that devalues both groups of individuals. 

What does this mean here in Pittsburgh?  Well it certainly suggest that organizations such as the GLCC are human service providers and should be part of the equation when examining service delivery.  It also suggests we should be mindful of the ability of low and moderate income queer families to access the social opportunities so critical to developing a strong support system — events that cost $15 per person might be out of reach for a family living on $12.00/hr wages. 

Groups that strive to create these social support opportunities that are free or income sensitive — like the PrideFest Committee and the Dyke March — do tackle this issue. Certainly organizations like PATF, Persad Center and the Shepherd Wellness Community play a significant role in serving individuals struggling with the day to day reality of surviving on limited means. 

This makes your support of these groups even more vital.  It also means we should continue agitating for systemic change on the local level.  I would argue it makes advocacy on the County level even more critical to have any real impact on the delivery of local human services and strengthening the safety net to include all kinds of families. 

I'm going to please Adam by also pointing out that changing federal laws on marriage would go a long way toward addressing a myriad of systemic barriers facing queer families.  It is tax time and we once again face the lowering of the boom in terms of federal taxes on our domestic partner health insurance. It is still a bargain, but ridiculously unfair.  Thus, while I absolutely believe we should push County Chief Executive Dan Onorato to offer domestic partner benefits we should continue to urge US Congressman Mike Doyle to make the federal government treat our families fairly.  It is a continuum. 

The myth of affluence is just that.

h/t Pam's House Blend

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  • >> It also suggests we should be mindful of the ability of low and moderate income queer families to access the social opportunities so critical to developing a strong support system — events that cost $15 per person might be out of reach for a family living on $12.00/hr wages.
    Finally, somebody gets it. Thank you for saying this.

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