Press Room

April 12, 2004


Denial of Marriage Rights Costs Same-Sex Households, Children, Report Shows

Gay Americans Often Pay More in Taxes But Receive Fewer Benefits, says HRC President

WASHINGTON - Same-sex couples often pay more in taxes and receive less in federal benefits than other taxpayers, according to a report released today by the Human Rights Campaign Foundation.

As Congress considers an amendment to the U.S. Constitution that would permanently deny marriage benefits to same-sex couples, the report shows how much more same-sex couples already pay in taxes and loss of benefits as a result of being denied the right to marry. It also shows that same-sex parents are more likely to adopt than heterosexual parents, have high rates of stability despite being denied the right to marry, and are generally as likely as heterosexual couples to have one parent staying at home with the children.

"On this day when all of us are paying our taxes, it is very clear that gay and lesbian Americans pay more for fewer benefits than any other families," said HRC President Cheryl Jacques. "Our families are taxed on health insurance for our partners, are unable to secure Social Security survivor benefits and pay more federal income tax when one parent stays at home than married couples. Now, the president and many in Congress want to tamper with the Constitution to make that kind of treatment permanent."

The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Children and their Same-Sex Parents, co-authored by Lisa Bennett, director of HRC FamilyNet, and Gary Gates of the Urban Institute, includes a comprehensive analysis of 2000 Census data about families headed by same-sex couples and an estimate of the extra costs paid for health insurance, parenting-related federal income taxes and lost Social Security survivor benefits.

According to the report:

ᄡ&nbspSame-sex couples pay more in federal income tax than married couples when one parent stays at home - but less when both work.

ᄡ&nbspWhen a gay or lesbian parent dies leaving a young child behind, the loss of Social Security survivor benefits to the family can range from $100,000 to $250,000, depending on whether state laws permitted both parents to establish a legal relationship to the surviving child.

ᄡ&nbspSame-sex couples are raising children in 96 percent of all counties in the nation.

ᄡ&nbspThe South has the highest percentage of same-sex couples who are raising children, followed by the Midwest.

ᄡ&nbspLos Angeles County, Cook County, Ill., and Harris County, Texas, - President Bush's home county - are the three counties with the greatest numbers of same-sex couples with children. Miami-Dade County also figures among the top 10, even though Florida has the nation's most discriminatory laws against same-sex parents.

ᄡ&nbspSame-sex couples with children are far less likely to have access to employer-sponsored health insurance for their families than married couples - and those who do pay hundreds of dollars more in taxes for it.

"Unfortunately, President Bush supports changing the Constitution to discriminate against millions of families, including at least 3,000 in his own home county," added Jacques.

This report is the second in a series based on the 2000 Census that looks at the financial inequities faced by gay and lesbian Americans in the absence of marriage. To read the new report, visit To see the first in the series, "The Cost of Marriage Inequality to Gay,
Lesbian and Bisexual Seniors," visit

The Human Rights Campaign is the largest national lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender political organization with members throughout the country. It effectively lobbies Congress, provides campaign support and educates the public to ensure that LGBT Americans can be open, honest and safe at home, at work and in the community.