Same-sex households in the U.S. surpass 1 million for the first time, data shows

The number of same-sex couple households in the U.S. has surpassed 1 million for the first time, according to recently released government data. 

There were more than 1.2 million same-sex couple householdsacross the country in 2021, up from 540,000 in 2008, an increase of 120%, the data, taken from the Census Bureau’s annual American Community Survey, showed.

About 710,000 (59.2%) of the same-sex couple households were married, and about 500,000 (41.7%) were unmarried. 

The number of married same-sex households started to outnumber unmarried same-sex households in 2016, following the Supreme Court’s landmark 2015 Obergefell vs. Hodges ruling, which effectively legalized gay marriage across the U.S.

The release of this new data coincides with the advancement of landmark legislation that codifies federal protection for marriages of same-sex couples. The Respect for Marriage Act was approved 61-36 in the Senate and now returns to the House for a final vote before it can go to President Joe Biden, who has said he looks forward to enacting it.

Hawaii has the highest percentage of same-sex couple households of any state, at 1.4%, followed by Oregon and Delaware, both at 1.3%, the Census Bureau data reveals. The District of Columbia, however, blows them all out of the water at 2.5%.

South Dakota has the lowest percentage of same-sex couple households of any state, at 0.4%, followed by Kansas, Mississippi, Idaho, North Dakota and Montana, which are all at 0.5%.

There were some notable differences between same-sex and opposite-sex households. 

Same-sex households, for example, are significantly more likely than opposite-sex households to be interracial: In 2021, 31.6% of married same-sex couples were interracial, compared to 18.4% of married opposite-sex couples. 

Opposite-sex households, however, were much more likely to have children under 18. In 2021, 38.2% of married opposite-sex couples and 18% of married same-sex couples had children under 18 in their household. 

There were also some notable differences between female-female and male-male households, which comprised 52% and 48% of total same-sex households, respectively. 

For example, the median household income in male same-sex couple households ($116,800) was 26% higher than in female same-sex couple households ($92,470).