California may have the largest number of same-sex households -- married and unmarried -- of any state, a new Census Bureau study indicates, but several other states have higher percentages.
The report is a revision of what the 2010 census found, correcting what census officials said was a potential error in the wording of a question.
The 2000 census found that just over one-half of 1 percent of households were same-sex couples, but the 2010 census resulted in the much-higher figure of 0.773 percent. The latter resulted, officials said, from "an inconsistency of responses ... that artificially inflated the number of same-sex couples."
The new revision lowered the national number to 0.518 percent, slightly lower than the 2000 census found. That amounts to 646,464 same-sex households, of which 20 percent are married couples and 80 percent are unmarried.
In California, the Census Bureau said, 0.726 percent of households are same-sex couples, markedly lower than the 2000 census figure for the state. The District of Columbia, at 1.172 percent, has the highest proportion, followed by Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Hawaii, Maine and California. But with California's much higher population, its number of same-sex households is the nation's highest.
The Census Bureau's revision was peer-reviewed by, among others, UCLA's Williams Institute. It concurrently reported that about 50,000 same-sex marriages had occurred in the few states in which it was legal, briefly including California. Despite the brevity of its same-sex marriage window, California recorded an estimated 18,000 such weddings, the largest number of any state.
Same-sex marriages in California were outlawed by a 2000 ballot measure, Proposition 22. Eight years later, the state Supreme Court invalidated the measure, opening the wedding window. In 2008, voters adopted Proposition 8, which inserted the gay marriage ban into the state constitution. A federal judge later struck it down, and the legal wrangling over an appeal to higher courts is continuing.
In the meantime, public opinion polls have shown a steady increase in the acceptability of gay marriage, with one recent survey indicating that support is now over 50 percent of California voters.