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Here Come the Brides

Same-sex marriage bills put Maryland at forefront of national debate

Photo: National Conference of State Legislatures, License: N/A

National Conference of State Legislatures

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With a panel of state senators approving a bill legalizing same-sex marriage, many lawmakers anticipate the full Senate voting the bill into law, and the House of Delegates following suit. Assuming the governor signs such a bill, the Free State would be the sixth state to allow gay and lesbian couples to marry. While most states have a combination of statutory or constitutional language defining marriage between a man and a woman, 21 states—including several with such language—and the District of Columbia provide at least some measure of legal protection for same-sex couples, whether married, in a civil union, or in a domestic partnership. Maryland is part of a fragmented national narrative on same-sex marriage and gay rights, with Hawaii this week on track to pass a bill allowing same-sex marriages civil unions and Indiana set to pass a constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between a man and a woman.

If Maryland passes its law, it would give more than 10,000 same-sex couples the right to marry (if they haven’t already been married in a state that allows same-sex marriage). The U.S. Census Bureau’s American Community Survey, which gathered data on same-sex couples who identify themselves as such, paints an interesting picture of same-sex households in Maryland. These households tend to be younger and more educated, yet earn less than their opposite-sex counterparts.

2,092,538: Total number of households Maryland

10,058: Number of same-sex households Maryland

2,118: Number of same-sex households Baltimore

62,313,598: Total number of households in the U.S.

581,300: Number of same-sex households in the U.S.

80: Percentage of individuals in same-sex partnerships who are employed

70: Percentage of individuals in opposite-sex partnership who are employed

$42,750: Average annual salary for Maryland men in same-sex partnerships

$56,434: Average annual salary for Maryland men in opposite-sex partnerships

$41,546: Average annual salary for Maryland women in same-sex partnerships

$32,787: Average annual salary for Maryland women in opposite-sex partnerships

48: Percentage of individuals in same-sex partnerships who have a college degree

36: Percentage of individuals in opposite-sex partnerships who have a college degree

66: Percentage of same-sex couples who own their own home

83: Percentage of opposite-sex couples who own their own home

$58,572: Average household income of same-sex couples with children

$91,383: Average household income of opposite-sex couples with children

Sources: Demographic information from a 2007 report by The Charles R. Williams Institute at UCLA, household counts from the 2009 American Community Survey, U.S. Census Bureau

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