Highlights of the story
- 9.6% of LGBT adults in the US are married to a same-sex spouse
- The number of same-sex marriages has increased since 2016
- Marriages against the sex, partnerships more common among bisexual adults
WASHINGTON, DC – Approximately one in ten LGBT adults in the United States (9.6%) is married to a same-sex spouse, with a slightly lower proportion (7.1%) living with a same-sex partner. Half of LGBT adults have never been married, while 11.4% are married to a spouse of the opposite sex and 9.5% are either divorced or separated.
Overall, less than 1% of adults in the United States are married to a same-sex spouse. The largest percentage of Americans, 47.7%, are married to a spouse of the opposite sex.
Marital Status of Adults and LGBT Adults in the United States
|US adults||LGBT adults|
|Married to a same-sex spouse||47.7||11.4|
|Married to a same-sex spouse||0.6||9.6|
|Living with a same-sex partner||8.1||9.2|
|Living with a same-sex partner||0.4||7.1|
|Single / never married||22.9||50.5|
|Based on aggregated data from the Gallup 2020 surveys|
These results are based on aggregated data from Gallup surveys in 2020, which include interviews with more than 15,000 adults in the United States. According to Gallup’s latest estimate, 5.6% of adults in the US identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, with more than half of them claiming to be bisexual. LGBT identification is most prevalent among young adults, which explains the high proportion of the subgroup who have never been married.
The percentage of LGBT adults in same-sex marriages appears to have increased following the 2015 Supreme Court decision, Obergefell v Hodges, that legalized same-sex marriages nationwide. In the six months leading up to the Obergefell ruling, Gallup found that 7.9% of LGBT adults were in same-sex marriages. This percentage rose to 9.6% in the first year after the decision (until June 2016) and is the same on average by 2020.
Due to the surge in LGBT identification in recent years and the general growth of the US population, the number of same-sex marriages has likely increased significantly. In the Obergefell decision-making period, Gallup estimated that 0.3% of total adults in the United States were married to a same-sex spouse. In the first year following this decision, the US adult share in same-sex marriages was 0.4% and is now 0.6%.
Extrapolating these percentages to the US population suggests that an estimated 1.5 million US adults are married to a same-sex spouse, which would equate to approximately 750,000 same-sex marriages. Gallup previously estimated there were 368,000 same-sex marriages prior to the Obergefell decision and 491,000 in the first 12 months thereafter.
Same-sex marriage rates are similar for most adult demographic subgroups in the United States, although the percentage exceeds 1% for Americans with higher socioeconomic status – for households with higher incomes (annual income of $ 100,000 or more) and for those with higher education four year college degree. The percentage of people married to a same-sex spouse is also above 1% for political liberals, democrats, and those with no religious affiliation.
In addition, Gallup trends show that same-sex cohabiting couples are increasingly opting for marriage rather than domestic partnership. In the months leading up to national legalization of same-sex marriage in 2015, many more LGBT Americans were living in same-sex cohabiting couples, but not married (62%) instead of being married (38%). In the first 12 months after same-sex marriages were legalized, the split was roughly even: 49% were married and 51% were not married. Since then, around six in ten same-sex couples have been married, with 57% in the 2020 data.
Line diagram. Proportion of same-sex cohabiting couples who are married compared to domestic partners. From January to June 2015, before the Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriages were legal, 62% of same-sex couples living together were domestic partnerships and 38% were married. In the first year after the Supreme Court ruling, 51% were domestic partnerships and 49% were marriages. Since then, the majority of same-sex couples living together have been married.
Same-sex, engaged relationships Occasionally for bisexual adults
In particular, same-sex marriages are largely restricted to gay, lesbian, or transgender adults. Only 1.0% of bisexual adults, who make up the majority of the LGBT population, say they are married to a same-sex spouse. Now, 17.2% of bisexual adults are married to a spouse of the opposite sex, which explains why LGBT adults overall are slightly more likely to be married to a spouse of the opposite sex than someone of the same sex.
Bisexual adults are also much less likely to have a same-sex life partner (2.7%) than a same-sex life partner (13.3%), which also means that more LGBT adults live in same-sex than same-sex partnerships.
As would be expected, the patterns differ among gay and lesbian adults, who are much more likely to be in same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships than with or in domestic relationships with members of the opposite sex. Yet nearly half of gay and lesbian adults identify their marital status as single.
Marital status of adults in the United States who identify as bisexual or gay or lesbian
|Bisexual adults||Gay / lesbian adults|
|Married to a same-sex spouse||17.2||0.3|
|Married to a same-sex spouse||1.0||23.9|
|Living with a same-sex partner||13.3||1.6|
|Living with a same-sex partner||2.7||15.9|
|Single / never married||55.5||47.8|
|Based on aggregated data from the Gallup 2020 surveys; Gallup does not have sufficient data to report reliable, separate estimates for gay or lesbian adults, or for transgender adults.|
Gallup does not have sufficient data on transgender adults to provide reliable estimates of marital status in this group.
Same-sex marriages are not common in the United States or are very common among LGBT adults. But they are becoming more common in the US because the LGBT population in general is growing and more same-sex couples living together are choosing to get married rather than being unmarried partners.
It is unclear how marriage rates among LGBT adults will change as the population ages and many reach the age at which they would like to be in a committed relationship. Although it has been more than five years since same-sex marriage became legal, LGBT adults aged 30 and over are much more likely to describe their marital status than non-LGBT adults of the same age group as single (27.5% versus 10.9%), respectively ).
However, decisions about entering into stable relationships are made at a time when social trends and attitudes are drifting away from marriage. The 48% of Americans who said they were married in 2020 has fallen from 55% fewer than a generation ago in 2006. Also, fewer Americans today than in the recent past believe the importance of people being married if they have children together or if they want to spend the rest of their lives together.
It’s unclear what these attitudes are like among LGBT Americans, but young adults, non-religious people, Democrats, and political liberals – the subgroups most likely to be LGBT – are among the least likely subgroups to consider marriage view relevant.
And while many LGBT adults may choose not to get married, Americans increasingly support their right to marry a same-sex partner if they so choose.
Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.