WASHINGTON, D.C. (Observer Update) - The Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law released a first-of-its-kind report that shows Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual (LGB) Americans are as likely, and in some cases more likely, to be poor than their heterosexual counterparts. Because the U.S. Census Bureau does not explicitly ask questions about sexual orientation, LGB adults and families have been invisible in poverty statistics. This first analysis of the poor and low-income Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual population synthesizes data from three major sources: the 2000 Census, the 2002 National Survey of Family Growth and the 2003 and 2005 California Health Interview Surveys.
"The report highlights a significant segment of the poor and low-income population that has largely been ignored," said M.V. Lee Badgett, research director at The Williams Institute and an author of the study. "The data clearly undermine the persistent myth that the Gay community is monolithically affluent. As a group, quite the contrary is true." Though poverty is on the rise among all Americans, the authors of the study--entitled Poverty in the Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Community--suggest that unique social and political aspects of LGB life play a role in contributing to higher rates of poverty in this community, including vulnerability to employment discrimination, inability to marry and higher numbers of uninsured.
"Lesbian, Gay and Bisexual Americans are often susceptible to economic hardship," said Randy Albelda, a professor of economics at the University of Massachusetts at Boston. "Given that many Gay people have little recourse against employment discrimination and are shut out of institutions that promote economic security, it's really no surprise that we're seeing such high rates of poverty among this group," concluded Albelda.
The report was released this morning at an informational briefing in the U.S. Capitol for members of Congress, their staff and media. For the full report, visit law.ucla.edu/williamsinstitute.
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