As the Colorado Senate approaches a vote on a bill to create civil unions for unmarried couples, the Williams Institute, a leading research center on sexual orientation and gender identity law and policy, released the following statistics and references to illustrate the potential impacts of the bill. All of the data below is based on Williams Institute analyses, with the source of the data analyzed, or supporting publication, following in parentheses.
SAME-SEX COUPLES AND THEIR FAMILIES
• There are an estimated 12,424 same-sex couples in Colorado, of whom 1,618 identify as spouses. [Census 2010]
• An estimated 1,975 of Colorado’s same-sex couples in Colorado are raising nearly 4,000 children. Of those same-sex couples in the state who identify as spouses, 32% are raising children. [Census 2010]
• Nationally, an estimated 110,000 same-sex couples are raising children, more than 200,000 in total. [Census 2010]
• The Williams Institute has analyzed the likely impacts on Colorado’s budget of allowing same-sex and different-sex couples to enter civil unions with broad legal obligations, rights and protections under state law. Using the best data available, we estimated that such a law would garner $4.8 million for the State during the first three years. [Herman, et al., The Fiscal Impact of Creating Civil Unions on Colorado’s Budget, Williams Institute, February 2011]
• This net impact will be the result of savings in expenditures on state-funded means-tested public benefit programs, increased revenues from state license fees, and sales tax revenues. [Herman, et al., The Fiscal Impact of Creating Civil Unions on Colorado’s Budget, Williams Institute, February 2011]
POSITIVE HEALTH CONSEQUENCES
• The opportunity to enter a legal status that recognizes one’s relationship can have positive health consequences for same-sex couples by reducing the stress of social exclusion and stigma, which can lead to adverse health outcomes such as depression, anxiety, substance use disorders, and suicide attempts. [Badgett, et al., Written Testimony: S.598, The Respect for Marriage Act: Assessing the Impact of DOMA on American Families, pages 10-12, Williams Institute, 2011]
• Legal recognition for one’s same-sex relationship, including being in a legally recognized domestic partnership or civil union, boosted emotional health for the gay men studied. [R. Wight, et al., Stress and Mental Health Among Midlife and Older Gay-Identified Men, American Journal of Public Health, Jan. 19, 2012]
• Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, New Jersey and Rhode Island already have enacted civil union legislation.
• California, Nevada, Oregon and Washington have state-level domestic partnership registries through which couples can assume the same obligations, rights and protections as married spouses under state law.
• Maine, Maryland and Wisconsin offer limited domestic partnership protections.
• Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Vermont, and the District of Columbia allow same-sex couples to marry, and Governor Gregoire of Washington State signed legislation on February 13, 2012 to allow same-sex couples to marry in that state.
About the Williams Institute
The Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Law and Public Policy advances law and public policy through rigorous, independent research and scholarship, and disseminates its work through a variety of education programs and media to judges, legislators, lawyers, other policy makers, and the public. For more information, go to: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu
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