When Maryland, Maine and Washington voted this week to recognize marriage for same-sex couples – and Minnesota voted to reject an amendment outlawing it – the lives of more than 35,000 couples changed. Using data from the 2010 Census, the Williams Institute estimates that one in five same-sex couples now live in states where they can legally marry. And considering that many LGBT people didn’t reveal their status on the census, this number may actually underestimate the impact the new laws have on the LGBT community as a whole.
But after Tuesday’s vote, the group says same-sex couples can now marry in nine states in the U.S. and the District of Columbia. And as a result, 20 percent of same-sex couples now live in states where they can marry. Overall, 16 percent of the U.S. population also lives in states where same-sex couples can marry – which is expected to have a positive impact on the way people perceive marriage equality.
In Maryland, for example, where there are an estimated 12,538 same-sex couples, as many as 20 percent are raising children. And more than 4,000 are expected to marry within the first year of marriage being legal. In three years, that number jumps to more than half.
In keeping with LGBT rights, more than 70 percent of LGBT voters cast their ballots for President Obama this week. “While LGBT voters clearly tilt toward Democratic candidates, it was clear from the data that the community is not a monolithic political group, and notably, LGBT Americans who express more conservative political preferences share many of the traits common to other Americans with those political views,” says Gary J. Gates from the Williams Institute.