CENSUS: California has more same-sex couples than other states

SDGLN.com Staff
September 29th, 2011

Editor’s note: These estimates include only couples where one partner is identified as being the spouse of the person who owns or rents the house.

SAN DIEGO – California leads the nation with the most same-sex couples, according to the 2010 Census.

The Golden State had 98,153 same-sex couples, followed by New York with 48,932, Florida with 48,496 and Texas with 46,401. North Dakota had the fewest same-sex couples with 559, just ahead of Wyoming with 657 and South Dakota with 714.

Among the nation’s largest cities with a population over 250,000, San Diego ranked No. 5 with 5,910 same-sex couples. Los Angeles was No. 1 with 13,292, followed by Chicago with 10,849, San Francisco with 10,461 and Seattle with 6,537.

The U.S. Census Bureau this week released revised estimates on same-sex married couple and unmarried partner households: There were 131,729 same-sex married couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the United States.

The 2010 Census marked the first time the Census Bureau tracked information about same-sex spouses.

Gay groups react

Rea Carey, executive director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, noted that the organization worked closely with the Census Bureau to document data on same-sex households.

“The data … represent another step in erasing the invisibility of our lives. No longer are our marriages rendered invisible in the snapshot of our country provided through the census. And no longer can anyone ignore the presence of our relationships all across the country,” Carey said.

“While this marks a huge step forward, it is not the end of the journey. Lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender individuals still are not counted in the census or dozens of other surveys that are supposed to reflect the diversity of people in America. When LGBT people are not counted, we don’t ‘count’ when it comes to money for services, resources and programs.

“Census and other data are the basis for how the government spends billions of dollars each year. Without an accurate count, LGBT people are forced to go without funding for real, everyday services and remain virtually nonexistent in the eyes of our government. This is unacceptable. We continue to work with policymakers to ensure LGBT people are included in data collection on a broad spectrum of critical issues, including those involving our health, our families, our economic well-being, our safety and much more,” Carey said.

Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry, applauded the data.

“The Census Bureau’s most recent estimates of same-sex couples reiterate the need to end marriage discrimination once and for all. The number of gay and lesbian couples in committed, loving relationships, raising families together, continues to grow, leaving more and more families without the critical safety-net of marriage,” Wolfson said.

“These findings also confirm that those who most need the support marriage offers – particularly in these tough economic times – live in the places with the fewest protections. The South is home to more gay parents than any other region in the nation. And yet, these families are not only discriminated against by their home states, which exclude them from marriage and bar even lesser protections such as civil union and domestic partnership, but are also targeted for an additional layer of discrimination from the federal government under the so-called Defense of Marriage Act,” he said.

“When DOMA was stampeded into law back in 1996, no gay couples were married anywhere in the world; Congress was voting on a hypothetical. Now we have Census confirmed couples across the country who are harmed by this unconscionable law. In the United States, we don’t have second-class citizens, and we shouldn’t have second-class marriages. It’s time to follow the Golden Rule and the Constitution and end marriage discrimination once and for all.”

Census Bureau explains why it revised its numbers

The results of the 2010 Census revised estimates are closer to the results of the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) for same-sex married and unmarried partners. The 2010 ACS estimated same-sex married couples at 152,335 and same-sex unmarried partners at 440,989.

The new, preferred figures revise earlier estimates of same-sex unmarried partners released this summer from the 2010 Census Summary File 1 because Census Bureau staff discovered an inconsistency in the responses in the 2010 Census summary file statistics that artificially inflated the number of same-sex couples.

In addition, a breakdown of couples who reported as same-sex spouses is now available. The summary file counts originally showed that there were 349,377 married couple households and 552,620 same-sex unmarried partner households.

Statistics on same-sex couple households are derived from two questions on the census and ACS questionnaire: relationship to householder and the sex of each person. When data were captured for these two questions on the 2010 Census door-to-door form, the wrong box may have been checked for the sex of a small percentage of opposite-sex spouses and unmarried partners. Because the population of opposite-sex married couples is large and the population of same-sex married couples in particular is small, an error of this type artificially inflates the number of same-sex married partners.

New methodology implemented

After discovering the inconsistency, Census Bureau staff developed another set of estimates to provide a more accurate way to measure same-sex couple households. The revised figures were developed by using an index of names to re-estimate the number of same-sex married and unmarried partners by the sex commonly associated with the person’s first name.

“We understand how important it is for all groups to have accurate statistics that reflect who we are as a nation,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves said. “As scientists, we noticed the inconsistency and developed the revised estimates to provide a more accurate portrait of the number of same-sex couples. We’re providing all three — the revised, original and ACS estimates — together to provide users with the full, transparent picture of our current measurement of same-sex couples.”

The 2010 Census preferred estimates have been peer-reviewed by Gary Gates, a demographer with the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, by Philip Cohen, a professor of sociology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and by Megan Sweeney, professor of sociology at UCLA. These experts concluded the methodology behind these revised estimates was sound.

All three sets of estimates are available at both the national and state levels and provide estimates of the presence of the couple’s own children. The 2010 Census revised estimates provide a 10-year benchmark, while the ACS estimates are useful for looking at a yearly time series.

In Study, Fatherhood Leads to Drop in Testosterone

September 12, 2011
New York Times

This is probably not the news most fathers want to hear.

Testosterone, that most male of hormones, takes a dive after a man becomes a parent. And the more he gets involved in caring for his children — changing diapers, jiggling the boy or girl on his knee, reading “Goodnight Moon” for the umpteenth time — the lower his testosterone drops.

So says the first large study measuring testosterone in men when they were single and childless and several years after they had children. Experts say the research has implications for understanding the biology of fatherhood, hormone roles in men and even health issues like prostate cancer.

“The real take-home message,” said Peter Ellison, a professor of human evolutionary biology at Harvard who was not involved in the study, is that “male parental care is important. It’s important enough that it’s actually shaped the physiology of men.”

“Unfortunately,” Dr. Ellison added, “I think American males have been brainwashed” to believe lower testosterone means that “maybe you’re a wimp, that it’s because you’re not really a man.

“My hope would be that this kind of research has an impact on the American male. It would make them realize that we’re meant to be active fathers and participate in the care of our offspring.”

The study, experts say, suggests that men’s bodies evolved hormonal systems that helped them commit to their families once children were born. It also suggests that men’s behavior can affect hormonal signals their bodies send, not just that hormones influence behavior. And, experts say, it underscores that mothers were meant to have child care help.

“This is part of the guy being invested in the marriage,” said Carol Worthman, an anthropologist at Emory University who also was not involved in the study. Lower testosterone, she said, is the father’s way of saying, “ ‘I’m here, I’m not looking around, I’m really toning things down so I can have good relationships.’ What’s great about this study is it lays it on the table that more is not always better. Faster, bigger, stronger — no, not always.”

Experts said the study was a significant contribution to hormone research because it tested men before and after becoming fathers and involved many participants: 600 men in the Cebu Province of the Philippines who are participating in a larger, well-respected health study following babies who were born in 1983 and 1984.

Testosterone was measured when the men were 21 and single, and again nearly five years later. Although testosterone naturally decreases with age, men who became fathers showed much greater declines, more than double that of the childless men.

And men who spent more than three hours a day caring for children — playing, feeding, bathing, toileting, reading or dressing them — had the lowest testosterone.

“It could almost be demonized, like, ‘Oh my God, fathers, don’t take care of your kids because your testosterone will drop way down,’ ” said Lee Gettler, an anthropologist at Northwestern University and co-author of the study, published in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “But this should be viewed as, ‘Oh it’s great, women aren’t the only ones biologically adapted to be parents.’

“Humans give birth to incredibly dependent infants. Historically, the idea that men were out clubbing large animals and women were staying behind with babies has been largely discredited. The only way mothers could have highly needy offspring every couple of years is if they were getting help.”

Smaller studies, measuring just snapshots in time, found fathers have lower testosterone, but they could not establish whether fatherhood brought testosterone down or lower-testosterone men were just more likely to become fathers.

In the new study, said Christopher Kuzawa, a co-author and Northwestern anthropologist, having higher testosterone to start with “actually predicted that they’re more likely to become fathers,” possibly because men with higher testosterone were more assertive in competing for women or appeared healthier and more attractive. But regardless of initial testosterone level, after having children, the hormone plummeted.

Scientists say this suggests a biological trade-off, with high testosterone helping secure a mate, but reduced testosterone better for sustaining family life.

“A dad with lower testosterone is maybe a little more sensitive to cues from his child, and maybe he’s a little less sensitive to cues from a woman he meets at a restaurant,” said Peter Gray, an anthropologist at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, who has conducted unrelated research on testosterone in fathers.

The study did not examine specific effects on men’s behavior, like whether those with smaller drops in testosterone were more likely to be neglectful or aggressive. It also did not examine the roles played by other hormones or whether factors like stress or sleeplessness contributed to a decline in testosterone.

Other studies have suggested, though not as definitively, that behavior and relationships affect testosterone levels. A study of Air Force veterans showed that testosterone climbed back up after men were divorced. A study of Harvard Business School students found that those in committed romantic relationships had lower testosterone than those who were not. Another study found that fathers in a Tanzanian group known for involved parenting had low testosterone, while those from a neighboring culture without active fathering did not.

Similar results have been found in birds and in mammals like marmosets, said Toni Ziegler, a senior scientist at the Wisconsin National Primate Research Center.

Experts say the new testosterone study could offer insight into men’s medical conditions, particularly prostate cancer. Higher lifetime testosterone levels increase the risk of prostate cancer, just as higher estrogen exposure increases breast cancer risk.

“Fathers who spend a lot of time in fathering roles might have lower long-term exposure to testosterone,” reducing their risk, Dr. Ellison said.

Many questions remain. Does testosterone, which appeared to decline most steeply in fathers during their child’s first month, rebound as children become older and less dependent? How often do levels fluctuate?

To read the complete article, go to: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/13/health/research/13testosterone.html?src=un&feedurl=http%3A%2F%2Fjson8.nytimes.com%2Fpages%2Fnational%2Findex.jsonp

One Sperm Donor, 150 Offspring

September 5, 2011

New York Times


Cynthia Daily and her partner used a sperm donor to conceive a baby seven years ago, and they hoped that one day their son would get to know some of his half siblings — an extended family of sorts for modern times.

So Ms. Daily searched a Web-based registry for other children fathered by the same donor and helped to create an online group to track them. Over the years, she watched the number of children in her son’s group grow.

And grow.

Today there are 150 children, all conceived with sperm from one donor, in this group of half siblings, and more are on the way. “It’s wild when we see them all together — they all look alike,” said Ms. Daily, 48, a social worker in the Washington area who sometimes vacations with other families in her son’s group.

As more women choose to have babies on their own, and the number of children born through artificial insemination increases, outsize groups of donor siblings are starting to appear. While Ms. Daily’s group is among the largest, many others comprising 50 or more half siblings are cropping up on Web sites and in chat groups, where sperm donors are tagged with unique identifying numbers.

Now, there is growing concern among parents, donors and medical experts about potential negative consequences of having so many children fathered by the same donors, including the possibility that genes for rare diseases could be spread more widely through the population. Some experts are even calling attention to the increased odds of accidental incest between half sisters and half brothers, who often live close to one another.

“My daughter knows her donor’s number for this very reason,” said the mother of a teenager conceived via sperm donation in California who asked that her name be withheld to protect her daughter’s privacy. “She’s been in school with numerous kids who were born through donors. She’s had crushes on boys who are donor children. It’s become part of sex education” for her.

Critics say that fertility clinics and sperm banks are earning huge profits by allowing too many children to be conceived with sperm from popular donors, and that families should be given more information on the health of donors and the children conceived with their sperm. They are also calling for legal limits on the number of children conceived using the same donor’s sperm and a re-examination of the anonymity that cloaks many donors.

“We have more rules that go into place when you buy a used car than when you buy sperm,” said Debora L. Spar, president of Barnard College and author of “The Baby Business: How Money, Science and Politics Drive the Commerce of Conception.” “It’s very clear that the dealer can’t sell you a lemon, and there’s information about the history of the car. There are no such rules in the fertility industry right now.”

Although other countries, including Britain, France and Sweden, limit how many children a sperm donor can father, there is no such limit in the United States. There are only guidelines issued by the American Society for Reproductive Medicine, a professional group that recommends restricting conceptions by individual donors to 25 births per population of 800,000.

No one knows how many children are born in this country each year using sperm donors. Some estimates put the number at 30,000 to 60,000, perhaps more. Mothers of donor children are asked to report a child’s birth to the sperm bank voluntarily, but just 20 to 40 percent of them do so, said Wendy Kramer, founder of the Donor Sibling Registry.

Because of this dearth of records, many families turn to the registry’s Web site, donorsiblingregistry.com, for information about a child’s half brothers or half sisters.

Ms. Kramer, who had her son, Ryan, through a sperm donor, started the registry in 2000 to help connect so-called donor families. On the Web site, parents can register the birth of a child and find half siblings by looking up a number assigned to a sperm donor. Many parents, she said, are shocked to learn just how many half siblings a child has.

“They think their daughter may have a few siblings,” Ms. Kramer said, “but then they go on our site and find out their daughter actually has 18 brothers and sisters. They’re freaked out. I’m amazed that these groups keep growing and growing.”

Ms. Kramer said that some sperm banks in the United States have treated donor families unethically and that it is time to consider new legislation.

“Just as it’s happened in many other countries around the world,” Ms. Kramer said, “we need to publicly ask the questions ‘What is in the best interests of the child to be born?’ and ‘Is it fair to bring a child into the world who will have no access to knowing about one half of their genetics, medical history and ancestry?’

“These sperm banks are keeping donors anonymous, making women babies and making a lot of money. But nowhere in that formula is doing what’s right for the donor families.”

Many of those questions were debated in Britain shortly after the birth there, in 1978, of Louise Brown, the first baby born using in vitro fertilization. In 1982, the British government appointed a committee, led by Mary Warnock, a well-known English philosopher, to look into the issues surrounding reproductive health.

The groundbreaking Warnock Report contained a list of recommendations, including regulation of the sale of human sperm and embryos and strict limits on how many children a donor could father (10 per donor). The regulations have become a model for industry practices in other countries.

“It is quite unpredictable what the ultimate effect on the gene pool of a society might be if donors were permitted to donate as many times as they chose,” Baroness Warnock wrote recently in an e-mail.

Without limits, the same donor could theoretically produce hundreds of related children. And it is even possible that accidental incest could occur among hundreds of half siblings, said Naomi R. Cahn, a law professor at George Washington University and the author of “Test Tube Families: Why the Fertility Markets Need Legal Regulation.”

Sperm donors, too, are becoming concerned. “When I asked specifically how many children might result, I was told nobody knows for sure but that five would be a safe estimate,” said a sperm donor in Texas who asked that his name be withheld because of privacy concerns. “I was told that it would be very rare for a donor to have more than 10 children.”

He later discovered in the Donor Sibling Registry that some donors had dozens of children listed. “It was all about whatever they could get away with,” he said of the sperm bank to which he donated. “It is unfair and reprehensible to the donor families, donors and donor children.”

To read the entire article, go to http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/06/health/06donor.html?_r=1&hp