As promised, here are the compiled census numbers about the state of North Carolina’s LGBT communities, courtesy of Pam’s House Blend (bolded text are her emphasis):
There are a lot of gay households in places other than the large metropolitan (read solid Blue) areas of the country, and the Williams Institute has sliced and diced census numbers to give a better picture of where we are.
The Williams Institutes will be releasing Census Snapshot: 2010 reports throughout the summer and will provide demographic and geographic information about same-sex couples and same-sex couples raising children for all 50 states, Washington, D.C., and Puerto Rico. These most recent batch is about Alaska, Colorado, Connecticut, Nebraska, and North Carolina.
The authors of these reports are Gary J. Gates, PhD, the Williams Distinguished Scholar at the Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law and Abigail M. Cooke, a PhD candidate in the Department of Geography at UCLA, affiliated with the California Center for Population Research.
In looking at my state – North Carolina, it’s no surprise that we have a lot of same-sex households as a percentage of the population, particularly in Durham, Carrboro and Asheville (notably, not Raleigh, though nearby Garner makes the list). Total census-declared came-sex couples in NC: 27,250; Same-sex couples per 1,000 households: 7.28.
Those aren’t insignificant numbers, given our state has zero employment discrimination protections, and a hostile judiciary (for second parent adoptions in particular). Individual cities have offered same-sex partner benefits and have anti-discrimination laws in place; and the state has passed a gender identity and presentation-inclusive anti-bullying bill, something several Blue states have yet to get around to passing.
So with all of the talk and push to eliminate DOMA to obtain full marriage rights, LGBTs in states like Alaska, Nebraska, and North Carolina are restless and hopeful that the focus will return to federal ENDA – in order to marshall more LGBTs to political activism, these folks need to know they won’t be fired for being out of the closet.
To put these numbers in perspective and as a reminder for what is at stake this year for equality for LGBT North Carolinians, I refer you to an interview published by the Asheville Citizen-Times with NC State House Speaker Tom Tillis about his plans to bring the anti-LGBT marriage (or anything “resembling” marriage) amendment to a vote in an upcoming special legislative session. The ultimate plan is to have this “red meat” amendment serve as a lure to draw out large number of conservative evangelicals to the voting booth in the 2012 election. Here is how Tillis chose to frame the decision to bring the amendment to a full vote in the legislature (bolded text is my emphasis):
“The defense of marriage is one that a number of folks in our base feel very strongly about,” Tillis said, noting the issue would definitely be brought up in a special fall session. “Generally speaking, it polls fairly high across the voter base. It’s not a particularly partisan thing.”
Asked how he personally feels about gay marriage, Tillis said “data” show that traditional marriages between men and women are more stable and nurturing.
He expects the measure, which can’t be vetoed by the governor, to pass the House with the minimum 72 votes and go to voters in 2012.
As for whether the ballot measure should prohibit same-sex partner benefits given by some businesses and a few local governments such as Asheville, Tillis said he hasn’t taken a formal position.
“We’re doing our homework. We do need to understand that and have that factor in to what will ultimately be put into the language,” he said.
You all know that I am not even-minded about this issue. (Does that make me a less than effective teacher? A recent study suggests some students perceive political bias, whether spoken or not, when an instructor identifies as LGBTQ.) The issue affects me and my very ability to have a legally recognized family. So it’s not surprising that I find it particularly ironic that while the #s above show LGBT families are on the rise in North Carolina, that while at their recent national conference the American Medical Association firmly affirms the full and equal rights of LGBT patients and their families, and while New York’s state legislators (even three Republicans) sign on to bring full marriage equality to their state (and Rhode Island passes a less than full step towards equality with civil unions), Rep. Tillis espouses unfounded assertions (assertions that have been shown to be patently false) about the relationships of LGBT folks who live, work, pay taxes, and make their homes in this state.
There will be equally nasty sentiments expressed on the legislative floor when this bill is brought for a vote and even more when it makes its way onto the general ballot. It puts me in mind of Jonas Slonaker, “I mean, imagine if more gay people stayed in But it’s easier said than done, of course.”