Thursday, March 26, 2009


Thanks to Toujoursdan for highlighting findings in a report (PDF) about LGBT poverty from the Williams Institute of the UCLA Law School:

After adjusting for a range of family characteristics that help explain poverty, gay and lesbian couple families are significantly more likely to be poor than are heterosexual married couple families.

+ Notably, lesbian couples and their families are much more likely to be poor than heterosexual couples and their families.

+ Children in gay and lesbian couple households have poverty rates twice those of children in heterosexual married couple households.

+ Within the LGB population, several groups are much more likely to be poor than others. African American people in same-sex couples and same-sex couples who live in rural areas are much more likely to be poor than white or urban same-sex couples.

+ While a small percentage of all families receive government cash supports intended for poor and low-income families, we find that gay and lesbian individuals and couples are more likely to receive these supports than are heterosexuals.

Thanks also to Counterlight

I've always felt that "affluent gays" was a big canard, up there with "rich Jews." The rich Palm Springs circuit party crowd is a very visible, but tiny minority of the LGBT population. Most well paid LGBT professionals are in medicine and technology. High tech companies are usually very gay friendly because that's where a lot of their talent comes from. Most other gay men, especially the young, are in famously low wage jobs provided by retail, hospitality, restaurants, and arts and entertainment. And this has always been true.

Lesbians face a double whammy of the wage discrimination against women built into the economy, and homophobic prejudice.

Those who face the worst employment discrimination are transexuals. So many once turned to prostitution because there was no other work. Some businesses and professions are beginning to open up very slowly and reluctantly, but it is still incredibly difficult for them.

Proponents and opponents of Vermont's gay marriage bill have used the economy in their arguments. The Lake Champlain Regional Chamber of Commerce and the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility have both supported its passage. Governor Jim Douglas and opponents of the bill have scolded Vermont lawmakers for even considering it (read: wasting precious time and money). Dissing LBGTs as non-persons without proper rights - as Douglas has done with a terrific force - and saying the economy should receive priority just doesn't cut it. Loving and caring Vermont LBGT families are having just as hard a time surviving in Vermont as their hetero counterparts. Also, as toujoursdan notes in a comment over at Counterlight, the religious right have used the myth of gay affluence to argue that LGBTs don't need civil rights protections or marriage equality. The opponents - especially the anti-government folks - may attempt to use the UCLA report as ammo against the bill, that Vermont doesn't need that added burden or responsibility to help "them." With blinders on, the opponents fail to realise that, as the report points out, they would be continuing systemic homophobia and class discrimination in our cities and towns, and it's not a good thing to live in state that disregards fundamental human rights of Vermonters to such basic needs as healthcare, housing, education, social security and dignified work.

Very relatedly, connecting equal marriage rights to struggles of all Vermont families, a new advertisement from Vermont Freedom to Marry:

Cross-posted at Antemedius.

1 comment:

  1. Here's where the myth of gay affluence comes from. Gay publications have content that appeals to advertisers. Advertisers like affluent audiences. So, when gay publications did marketing surveys of their readers, they found higher than average incomes. Some queers tried to use that to argue that queer economic power should be taken seriously, even though people with lower than average incomes have economic power too.

    Scientific studies of lgbt incomes have consistently shown the same results you cite. Queers make less and have less income than their hetero counterparts.


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