This story previously contained a photo of an opposite-sex married couple, but implied they were a same-sex couple. The error has been corrected in this version.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Nearly 150,000 same-sex couples reported being in marriage relationships last year, many more than the number of actual weddings and civil unions, according to the first U.S. census figures released on same-sex marriages.
About 27 percent of the estimated 564,743 total gay couples in the United States said they were in a relationship akin to “husband” and “wife,” according to the Census Bureau tally provided to The Associated Press. That’s compared with 91 percent of the 61.3 million total opposite-sex couples who reported being married.
A consultant to the Census Bureau estimated there were roughly 100,000 official same-sex weddings, civil unions and domestic partnerships in 2008.
Analysts said the disparities are probably a reflection of same-sex couples in committed relationships who would get married if they could in their states. The numbers are also an indicator of the count to come in the 2010 census, a tally that could stir a state-by-state fight over same-sex marriage, gay adoption and other legal rights.
Nationwide, about 56 percent of the 149,956 total same-sex marriages in the census survey last year were lesbian couples. Same-sex spouses were reported in every state; specific breakdowns weren’t immediately available.
“Even though in 2008 there were only a few states where you could get legally married, a large portion of same-sex couples either were married or chose to use that term,” said Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA who is advising the Census Bureau.
Gates reviewed the number of marriage licenses issued and other factors to estimate the number of same-sex couples in legal relationships. During 2008, same-sex marriage was legal in California, Massachusetts, Iowa and Connecticut, while a handful of other states recognized civil unions and domestic partnerships. U.S. same-sex couples also can marry in Canada and other foreign countries.