Demography of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Heterosexual Couple Relationships in California
Charles Strohm, University of California, Los Angeles
Susan D. Cochran, University of California, Los Angeles
Vickie M. Mays, University of California, Los Angeles
Policies increasingly consider the rights of same-sex couples, but reliable data on these couples are limited. We use new information from lesbians, gays and bisexuals residing in California to estimate the percent in cohabiting and serious dating relationships, paying attention to how estimates depend on the measurement of sexual orientation. We also investigate characteristics associated with forming a union among lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and heterosexuals. Using data from the 2004-05 California Quality of Life Survey, a probability sample of California adults, we find that lesbians, gay men, and bisexuals are less likely than heterosexuals to be in a relationship, but estimates of relationship status depend upon how sexual orientation is operationalized to classify the groups. Results show little selection into unions by education for lesbians and gay men, in contrast to heterosexual women and men. Our findings shed light on the process of union formation among lesbians and gay men.