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Patterns of relationship recognition by same-sex couples in the United States


This study uses the best available administrative data to provide a dynamic picture of the demand for legal recognition among same-sex couples and a portrait of the couples seeking recognition. In the U.S., over 140,000 same-sex couples have formalized their relationship under state law and nearly 50,000 have married.  The data show that same-sex couples marry at much higher rates than they enter civil unions or other legal statuses.  Same-sex couples entering these relationships are predominantly female and younger than all currently married different-sex couples, but older than newly-married different-sex couples. When a state allows marriage for same-sex couples, over 60% of those who marry come from other states.  Couples will travel to marry from nearby states and from large states in which they do not enjoy that same opportunity.

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