One in five of an identified 4,307 households headed by same-sex couples in Utah is raising children, a new Williams Institute report says.

And while the largest concentration of those households is in Salt Lake County, there are 2,343 couples identified and living elsewhere in the state. Outside of Salt Lake, the largest concentrations are in Utah, Weber, Davis and Cache counties.

The report released Thursday, "Census Snapshot," was compiled using data from the U.S. Census Bureau and the Department of Health and Human Services. It identified 53,832 gay, lesbian and bisexual people living in Utah.

The family size for Utah's same-sex couples was 1.5 children, compared to 2.3 children for married couples, said Gary Gates, senior research fellow for the Williams Institute of the UCLA law school.

"Utah law makes it pretty hard for them," he said. "Same-sex couples can't jointly adopt."

Valerie Larabee, executive director of the Utah Pride Center, said many of Utah's same-sex couples with children are divorcees who had children while they were married. Others may have adopted while they were single, then gotten into a relationship.

"We can legally adopt here as a single lesbian," she said. "You have to be living alone and adopt by yourself; you can't be cohabitating."

Larabee said others may have legally adopted their children in another state, then moved to Utah. "It does present challenges for parents," she said.

Gates said the report debunks a myth that gay men tend to have high incomes. Men in same-sex couple households earned nearly $8,300 less on average each year than married men. But the income for gay men's households was higher than married couple households.

Meanwhile, women in same-sex couple households earned an average $7,000 more than married women, though they still earned less than men.

"If you have two male incomes, you probably have a higher household income," he said. "They are less likely to have children than their married counterparts, so they can spend their money differently ... they might actually have more disposable income."

The numbers could be an undercount, Gates said, because of the social stigma with identifying as gay. However, the numbers have increased over time.

"It's consistent with that pattern that people are clearly becoming more willing to indicate on these surveys they are a same-sex couple or their sexual orientation," he said.

Larabee believes there are probably more single people and coupled people than the estimates suggest. A full count would be helpful in policy implications, she said, especially given that this session, lawmakers will be debating a bill to add sexual orientation and gender identity to the state's law against on-the-job discrimination.

"I wish there were a way for us to say to people, we would love for you to be able to identify yourselves so we would truly know how much of a population we have in Utah," she said. "So lawmakers would see there are more people here than they think."


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