By Aaron Earls
While research shows a record number of Americans support same-sex marriage, few gay and lesbian couples have actually tied the knot.
More than 6 in 10 Americans (62 percent) favor same-sex marriage, according to Pew Research. That’s the highest level of support on record, climbing from 37 percent just 10 years ago.
At the same time, however, same-sex marriages have only inched upward since Obergefell v. Hodges, the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision extending same-sex marriage nationwide.
Prior to Obergefell in early 2015, 7.9 percent of Americans who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender were married to a same-sex spouse, according to Gallup. During the following year, the number grew to 9.6 percent. In 2017, two years after the decision, it stands at 10.2 percent.
Slightly more than 13 percent of LGBT individuals are married to a person of the opposite sex. This means more are involved in a marriage to a member of the opposite sex than are in a same-sex marriage.
This holds true across demographics. Regardless of gender or generation, LGBT individuals are more likely to be married to a person of the opposite sex than married to a same-sex spouse.
A growing majority of LGBT individuals say they are single and never married. Before the Supreme Court decision, 47.4 percent were single and not married or cohabitating. Most recently, 55.7 percent of LGBT individuals claimed that status.
Fewer are living with a same-sex partner—down from 12.8 percent to 6.6 percent. Gallup estimates seem to indicate this is a result of cohabiting same-sex couples increasingly choosing to marry.
Still fewer LGBT Americans are divorced (5.4 percent), living with an opposite sex partner (4.2 percent), widowed (2.2 percent), or separated (2.1 percent).
Prior to the Supreme Court decision, 62 percent of same-sex couples living together were unmarried, with 38 percent married. In 2017, 61 percent are married and 39 percent are not.
In addition to the slight bump in same-sex marriages, Gallup also found small, incremental growth in overall LGBT self-identification.
In 2012, 3.5 percent of Americans embraced that label. Today, 4.1 percent of Americans say they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
Millennials are more likely to identify as LGBT than any other generation, and the gap between them and older Americans is growing.
In 2012, 1.8 percent of those born before 1945 said they were LGBT. Among baby boomers, the number climbed to 2.7 percent. It was 3.2 percent for Generation X. Almost 6 percent of millennials self-identified as LGBT.
Last year, the percentage of older generations identifying as LGBT remained the same or decreased. Among millennials, however, 7.3 percent said they are LGBT.
The growth happened among those who say they are not religious. Among the highly religious and moderately religious, the percentages identifying as LGBT remained essentially flat at 1.9 percent and 3.5 percent respectively.
The irreligious are increasingly likely to say they are LGBT. In 2012, 5.3 percent claimed the designation. Last year, the number climbed to 7 percent.
But regardless of the growth among those self-identifying as LGBT, Americans still vastly overestimate their number.
On average, Gallup found Americans believe 23 percent of the population identifies as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender.
AARON EARLS (@WardrobeDoor) is online editor of Facts & Trends.