2000 U.S. Census data reveals Dane County is sixth in the nation in the number of same-sex couples living together.
The report suggests huge increases in same-sex couples around the country in the past 10 years, which does not surprise Madison’s gay community.
Brian Juchems, director of the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Campus Center, said more people were encouraged to complete the census this time.
Statistics show 1.5 percent of all couples living together in Dane County are same-sex couples, which is one from every 67 households.
As reported in The Capital Times, Dan Ross and Charlie Squires, same-sex partners for nine years, recognize that Madison is at the top of the list.
“Gay and lesbian people are everywhere, not just in the big cities,” Ross said.
“What these numbers show is that we’re part of the American family,” said David Smith, communications director for the Human Rights Campaign, a homosexual civil-rights lobbying group.
However, Smith said that the numbers in the 2000 census were probably still low, as many couples are afraid to come out.
Squires agreed that many couples probably did not identify themselves, especially if they live outside of the more tolerant confines of Dane County.
Many hope this information will prompt politicians to initiate more legislation for same-sex couples.
“This should speak to policy makers — all kinds of families are in their district,” Juchems said. “This is a significant part of their voting base and constituents that make many decisions.”
While opposition from legislators may exist, Squires said that he hopes the will open people’s minds.
“By changing social attitudes, we are changing the way the law is interpreted,” he said.
Janice Czyscon and Crystal Hyslop, also quoted in the Capital Times, have been partners for 20 years, have raised two daughters, and are very active in issues involving gay and lesbian families in Madison schools.
They said families like theirs should not be excluded from national data.
“I think it’s important to be recognized as partners by virtue of being counted in the census,” Czyscon said. “It fills a void.”
Czyscon and Hyslop said they realize that census data will help get legislation passed that will benefit all same-sex couples.
“You don’t get a piece of the pie until you show there’s a need large enough to be recognized,” Hyslop said. “This helps get us at the same table as everyone else.”
According to the 2000 census, there are 1,382 same-sex couples in Dane County (855 female couples and 527 male couples). In Madison, 916 same-sex couples were identified, including 557 female couples and 339 male pairs.
Among states, California ranked the highest in unmarried-partner households, with 92,138. New York was next, with 46,490, and Texas was third, with 42, 912.