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Best Cities for Same-Sex Married Couples [+2020 LGBTQ State Stats]

In our study of the best cities for same-sex married couples, Seattle ranked 1st. Seattle boasts one of the highest average household incomes of $93,481, over 1 percent of its married couples are of the same sex, and it has a lower cost of living than several popular cities. The city ranked 2nd, San Francisco, has a 44 percent higher cost of living but still is a top contender for LGBTQ+ couples with an even higher walkability score and the highest average household income.

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UPDATED: Sep 23, 2020

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Best cities for same-sex married couples.


Here’s What You Need to Know:

  • Seattle tops our list of the best cities for same-sex couples to call home
  • Birmingham, Alabama, has the fewest LGBTQ residents of any large city
  • About one in 10 LGBT Americans (10.2 percent) is married to a same-sex partner

The wonderful world of marriage brings along with it countless blessings and new responsibilities — from savings on taxes to important questions like: how much life insurance do we need? But, marriage isn’t always an easy step (or even obtainable) for all couples.

On June 26, 2015, the Supreme Court of the United States of America ruled same-sex marriage a Constitutional right in the landmark civil rights case Obergefell v. Hodges. In effect, this legalized same-sex marriage in every state and territory from sea to shining sea. Immediately, same-sex couples began getting wed, in ceremonies both simple and simply put, fabulous.

So five years later, we began wondering: where are the best cities in the United States for these now legally-wed couples to live?

In this study, we’ll rank the best cities for same-sex couples based on the concentration of same-sex couples in metro areas across the United States alongside a number of other livability factors, such as cost of living and walkability. We’ll also look at the U.S. cities with the fewest LGBTQ residents and the U.S. states with the fewest married same-sex couples.

Beyond a fundamental Constitutional right, the legalization of same sex marriage opened doors for queer people to access basic functions of citizenship they had never been able to access before.

So read on. Some of the cities on all these lists certainly surprised us, and we think they’ll surprise you, too.

What are the best U.S. cities for same-sex couples?

Best is almost always a subjective term. Same-sex couples live in every state of this nation, and just like their heterosexual counterparts, they want different things out of where they live. Some queer couples want to live in the mountains, while some love the hustle and bustle of a major metropolitan area. But where do the most same-sex married couples in the United States live?

In the table below, we’ve ranked the best U.S. cities for same-sex couples by tabulating five categories: percentage of same-sex married couples among the general population, average household income, cost of living in comparison to the national average, walkability score, and average one-way commute in minutes.

Ten Best U.S. Cities for Same Sex Couples
CITYPOPULATIONSAME SEX MARRIED COUPLESAVERAGE HOUSEHOLD INCOMECOST OF LIVINGWALKABILITY SCOREAVERAGE COMMUTE (MINUTES)RANK
Seattle, WA744,9491.09%$93,481+18.8%7426.21
San Francisco, CA883,3051.52%$112,376+62.5%8730.92
Portland, OR652,5730.97%$73,097+10.8%6723.33
Santa Rosa, CA174,2441.25%$67,144+22.6%4421.44
Portland, ME66,7150.83%$51,430+12.0%6118.05
Boston, MA695,9261.04%$71,834+39.5%8230.06
Albuquerque, NM560,2340.90%$51,099-3.0%4221.17 (tie)
San Diego, CA1.4 million0.88%$79,646+38.6%5122.57 (tie)
Miami, FL470,9110.92%$41,818+14.7%7828.59
New York City, NY8.4 million0.84%$63,799+83.0%8840.110
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As you can see, Seattle reigns supreme for LGBTQ couples, according to our research.

But again, queer people live and work, get married and date and stay single, quite literally everywhere. The gayest place in the United States? According to The New York Times, that honor goes to Washington, D.C., where 10 percent of the population identifies as LGBTQ. The video below shows a slice of this queer life in our nation’s capital.

Though Washington, D.C. didn’t make our list of the 10 best cities for same-sex married couples — largely because of the federal city’s high cost of living and long commute times — it is a fabulous place to live. Now let’s take a deeper look at our top 10 cities for LGBTQ couples across the United States.

#10 – New York City, New York

Population: 8.4 million
Percent of same-sex married couples: 0.84 percent
Average household income: $63,799
Cost of living: 83 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 88
Average commute: 40.1 minutes each way

Starting off our list of the best cities in the United States for same-sex married couples is the Big Apple, the City that Doesn’t Sleep, the City of Dreams: New York City, New York. The largest metropolis in the United States, with well over 8 million residents, New York prides itself on its diversity.

In fact, one of the most crucial parts of queer history happened here, as you can see in the video below.

New York City is home to the Stonewall Inn, the place most historians point to as beginning the modern gay rights movement when a riot broke out there on June 28, 1969, between the queer community and the police. To commemorate this momentous event — an event we can clearly thinking of as leading to marriage equality today — Gay Pride is traditionally held in June every year.

#9 – Miami, Florida

Population: 470,911
Percent of same-sex married couples: 0.92 percent
Average household income: $41,818
Cost of living: 14.7 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 78
Average commute: 28.5 minutes each way

One of the most racially and generally diverse cities in the United States, Miami is also one of the best places for same-sex couples to call home, as you can see in the video above. Want to know the racial breakdown of LGBT Americans? Check out the interactive graph below.

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Five corporations — Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Univision, Restaurant Brands International, and Akerman, LLP —  on the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC’s) “Best Places to Work” list are headquartered in Miami, a city that also scores high for walkability and, you won’t be surprised to read, beach access.

Florida as a whole has a high share of senior residents. We’ve gathered some tips on getting term life insurance over the age of 50 that are worth checking out for yourself or a loved one in this demographic.

#7 (tie) – San Diego, California

Population: 1.43 million
Percent of same-sex married couples: 0.88 percent
Average household income: $79,646
Cost of living: 38.6 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 51
Average commute: 22.5 minutes each way

Tied with Albuquerque for our number seven spot, San Diego, the City in Motion, has long been an LGBTQ mecca, especially for queer folks coming out of the armed forces. Also good to know: Several of HRC’s best places to work can be found in this SoCal gem, including Sony, Illumina, and Sempra Energy.

Though San Diego’s cost of living is well above the national average, that coastal life might be worth the cost. Just check out a fraction of what there is to do in the City in Motion in the video below.

Balboa Park is one of the most unique places in the United States. A 1,200-acre urban cultural park, Balboa houses the world-famous San Diego Zoo alongside museums and gorgeous open green spaces, not to mention some world-class architectural styles at every turn.

With so much outdoor beauty, San Diegans have a higher level of health than the national U.S. average. They also have a plethora of healthy eating options, which is good because eating healthy can lower your insurance rates and benefit your life overall.

#7 (tie) – Albuquerque, New Mexico

Population: 560,234
Percent of same-sex married couples: 0.9 percent
Average household income: $51,099
Cost of living: 3 percent lower than the national average
Walkability score: 42
Average commute: 21.1 minutes each way

Also known as The Q, Albuquerque, New Mexico, holds the distinction of being the only non-coastal city on this list.

It’s also the only city with a cost of living score well below the national average to make our top 10 list of the best U.S. cities for queer couples. For same-sex couples looking for affordability and wide-open vistas, the biggest city in New Mexico is certainly worth a second look.

Every October, hundreds of hot air balloons fill those wide-open skies at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. You can check out a glimpse of this unique event in the National Geographic video below.

The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is the largest hot air balloon event in the world. It also has a huge impact on the New Mexican economy, bringing in around 1 million visitors each October to the state.

#6 – Boston, Massachusetts

Population: 695,926
Percent of same-sex married couples: 1.04 percent
Average household income: $71,834
Cost of living: 39.5 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 82
Average commute: 30 minutes each way

It’s probably no surprise to see the capital of the first state — Massachusetts — to legalize same-sex marriage on this list. With a high concentration of same-sex couples and so many places on the HRC’s “Best Places to Work” list, Boston is a great place to call home.

Add in world-class educational institutions and some of the best harbor views in the country, and we think one of our country’s oldest cities is also one of the best for LGBTQ folks. And it’s one of the most groundbreaking gay cities. Wicked Queer, one of the oldest LGBTQ film festivals in the world, is housed right in Boston each year.

#5 – Portland, Maine

Population: 66,715
Percent of same-sex married couples: 0.83 percent
Average household income: $51,430
Cost of living: 12 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 61
Average commute: 18 minutes each way

Though the other Portland is the smallest city on our list — the only place with fewer than 100,000 residents, in fact — Portland, Maine, packs a lot of livability, especially for LGBTQ folks. The city is fairly walkable, affordable, commutable, and, given its position on a rocky bay of the North Atlantic, picturesque. As you can see in the video below, Portland is pretty great and, as you can see, friendly.

For those who need easy access to the busy Northeastern corridor, Portland, Maine can be a much more livable city than its larger neighbors like Boston or Providence. Though the cost of living is higher than the national average, it’s much lower in Portland than it is in most other places in New England.

Maine has a higher proportion of older residents than most states. Life insurance for seniors has some particular nuances that are worth checking out, especially if you or a loved one is over the age of 65.

Want to know the generations of U.S. residents who identify as LGBT? In the interactive graph below, we’re providing the generational cohort of LGBT Americans.

View as image

Millennials are much more likely to identify as LGBTQ than any other generation with data available. 8.2 percent of the cohort is queer, whereas the next most queer cohort, Generation X, has only 3.5 percent of its constituents identifying as such as of 2017.

#4 – Santa Rosa, California

Population: 174,244
Percent of same-sex married couples: 1.25 percent
Average household income: $67,144
Cost of living: 22.6 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 44
Average commute: 21.4 minutes each way

Located in the heart of California’s wine country — Sonoma County — Santa Rosa is one of the smaller cities on our list. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a great place for same-sex couples to lay down roots.

The HRC ranks California as having some of the best and most comprehensive laws protecting LGBTQ folks in the country, meaning the diverse state is one of the best places to be a diverse person.

Additionally, Santa Rosa is an all-around great place to live. With a high ratio of restaurants, coffee shops, art galleries, and entertainment venues per capita, there’s never a loss of things to do . . . not to mention all that wine. And with San Francisco only 55 miles to the north, metropolitan queer life is only a short drive away.

#3 – Portland, Oregon

Population: 652,573
Percent of same-sex married couples: 0.97 percent
Average household income: $73,097
Cost of living: 10.8 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 67
Average commute: 23.3 minutes each way

Continuing the West Coast same-sex love, Portland, Oregon lands at the third spot in our list of the best places for LGBTQ couples.

Like its neighbors to the north and south, Seattle and San Francisco, Portland receives a “working toward innovative equality” ranking from the HRC, who also marks many Portland-based companies on their list of the best places for LGBTQ folks to work, including Adidas, Cambia Health Solutions, and Standard Insurance.

U.S. News & World Report ranks the City of Roses as one of the 10 best places to live in the United States overall.

#2 – San Francisco, California

Population: 883,305
Percent of same-sex married couples: 1.52 percent
Average household income: $112,376
Cost of living: 62.5 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 87
Average commute: 30.9 minutes each way

San Francisco has long been known as a gay mecca, so it’s no surprise the City by the Bay received the second spot on this list of the best cities for same-sex married couples. According to wedding expert and manager Valeriya Istomina of Wedding Forward, San Francisco is a top place for queer couples. She explains that:

“San Francisco, including North Bay, is a top choice for same-sex couples. Same-sex couples choose to settle in this area more than any other place in the United States. LGBTQ+ culture is rich neighborhoods in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, which all became a part of the burgeoning out-and-proud gay movement.”

Indeed, more same-sex married couples per capita live here than anywhere else, and the HRC includes many San Francisco and Bay Area companies in their “Best Places to Work 2020” list, such as Gap, Inc., Sephora, and Lyft. Though the cost of living is high in San Francisco, our research shows that the city has some of the happiest residents of any major metro area in the United States.

As you can see in the map below, San Francisco and nearby Santa Rosa have the highest per capita rates of same-sex marriage of any cities in the United States.

U.S. cities with the highest rate of same-sex marriage.

#1 – Seattle, Washington

Population: 744,949
Percent of same-sex married couples: 1.09 percent
Average household income: $93,481
Cost of living: 18.8 percent higher than the national average
Walkability score: 74
Average commute: 26.2 minutes each way

MSNBC named Seattle the most gay-friendly city in the United States “based on their legislative equality, strong LGBT presence, and safety of the community.”

The HRC ranks the state of Washington as “working towards innovative equality” in their 2019 scorecard, and according to the organization’s 2020 list “Best Places to Work” for LGBTQ folks, many Seattle companies receive top marks, including Starbucks, Amazon, and Zillow. U.S. News & World Report even named Seattle one of its top 10 places to live overall.

You might be wondering: Do more women or men identify as LGBT in the United States? Check out our interactive graph below, which shows that women make up a majority of LGBT Americans.

View as image

As of 2017, 5.1 percent of women identified as queer, whereas only 3.9 percent of men did. Both genders, however, have seen a steady increase in LGBTQ identification since data has been collected by Gallup.

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What U.S. cities have the fewest LGBTQ residents?

Let’s get one thing straight: Just because a city doesn’t have a large number of LGBTQ residents doesn’t mean it’s a bad place to live. Again, queer people live everywhere, from the forests of Maine to high deserts of Utah to the tundra of Alaska.

But it is good to ask: Where are the cities with the fewest gay residents?

U.S. Cities with the fewest LGBTQ residents.

Why is it good to know where the U.S. cities with the fewest LGBTQ residents are located? The proportionally small share of queer residents does not necessarily indicate a place’s acceptance of non-hetero lifestyles or lack thereof.

Rather, it might be a good indicator of what resources are available to LGBTQ people in that city, resources ranging from LGBTQ organizations and bars to specialized health care and legal representation for insurance beneficiaries. In fact, what state LBGTQ residents live in may also have bearing on life insurance rights for transgender applicants.

In the table below, we’re tabulating the U.S. cities with the fewest LGBTQ residents, including the population of each metropolitan statistical area, the percentage of LGBTQ residents amongst the entire population, and the rank amongst cities with fewest queer residents.

Ten U.S. Cities with the Fewest LGBTQ Residents
METRO AREAPOPULATION% LGBTQRANK
Birmingham-Hoover, AL1,144,0972.6%1
Pittsburgh, PA301,0483.0%2
Memphis, TN-MS-AR1,324,1083.1%3
San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA1,999,1073.2%4
Raleigh, NC469,2983.2%5
Cincinnati, OH-KY-IN2,189,4423.2%6
Houston-The Woodlands-Sugarland, TX6,997,3843.3%7
Oklahoma City, OK649,0213.5%8
Richmond, VA227,0323.5%9
Nashville-Davidson-Murfreesboro-Franklin, TN1,959,4953.5%10
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As you can see, these cities are not a monolith by either size or location. They range from the South to California to the Northeast, and in size from a smaller metropolitan area to one of our country’s biggest cities.

Interesting fact: Several cities on this list are also ranked as being cities with the most physically demanding jobs in the United States. Memphis, Tennessee, ranks as the largest city in the United States with the most jobs, 11.9 percent, deemed physically demanding.

And even though these cities currently have a fairly low percentage of LGBTQ residents, we think the queer populations will continue to grow here alongside national averages. A 2018 Gallup report found that 4.5 percent of Americans now identify as LGBTQ, the largest percentage ever since the demographic polling organization began asking about sexuality and gender identity.

And the region where the LGBTQ population is growing the fastest? The American South, you might be surprised to learn.

What states have the fewest LGBTQ couples?

To reiterate the caveat that we raised above: Just because a state doesn’t have a large number of same-sex couples doesn’t mean that the state is not friendly to queer people.

Case in point: Vermont is one of the states with the fewest same-sex couples, but the state also has some of the best LGBTQ protections written into state law. Its inclusion on this list is rather a reflection of the state’s small population overall.

States with the fewest same-sex couples.

Again, even a proportionally small share of same-sex couples among the general population does not necessarily indicate a place’s acceptance or lack thereof. As we talked about above, rather, it might be a good indicator of what resources are available to LGBTQ people in that state.

In the table below, we’ve tabulated data from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, including state, the number of same-sex couples residing there (and self-reporting as such), the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households, and the percentage of same-sex couples raising children in that state.

Ten States with the Fewest LGBTQ Couples
STATEPOPULATION# SAME SEX COUPLESSAME SEX COUPLES PER 1,000 HOUSEHOLDSSAME SEX COUPLES RAISING CHILDRENRANK
North Dakota762,0625592.321.6%1
Wyoming578,7596573.224.7%2
South Dakota884,6597142.421.1%3
Alaska731,5451,2284.823.1%4
Montana1.1 million1,3473.522.0%5
Idaho1.8 million2,0423.622.3%6
Vermont623,9892,1438.418.6%7
Nebraska1.9 million2,3563.519.6%8
Delaware973,7642,6567.715.6%9
Rhode Island1.1 million2,7856.715.5%10
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The majority of the states in this table are not un-queer friendly, per se, but rather, they tend to be sparsely populated states in general. Thus, the number of same-sex couples there is smaller compared to more populous states, especially heavily-populated states like California or New York.

And we should note that in many of these states, same-sex parents raising children face a lot of the same issues as their hetero counterparts, from choosing the best school available to understanding insurance for their child.

What states have the most LGBTQ couples?

For the most part, the most populous states in the nation are the states with the most LGBTQ couples.

With nearly 100,000 same-sex couples, California leads the United States in queer coupledom. The next state with the most LGBTQ couples, New York, has less than half the number California does.

States with the most same-sex couples.

In the table below, we’ve again tabulated data from the UCLA School of Law Williams Institute, including state, the number of same-sex couples residing there (and self-reporting as such), the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households, and the percentage of same-sex couples raising children in that state.

Ten States with the Most LGBTQ Couples
STATEPOPULATION# SAME SEX COUPLESSAME SEX COUPLES PER 1,000 HOUSEHOLDSSAME SEX COUPLES RAISING CHILDRENRANK
California39.5 million98,1537.816.0%1
New York19.5 million48,9326.716.4%2
Florida21.5 million48,4966.513.3%3
Texas29.0 million46,4015.219.8%4
Illinois12.7 million23,0494.816.6%5
Pennsylvania12.8 million22,3364.515.9%6
Georgia10.6 million21,3186.019.6%7
Massachusetts6.9 million20,2568.017.1%8
Ohio11.7 million19,6844.317.7%9
Washington7.6 million19,0037.315.8%10
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Not surprisingly, you’ll recognize a lot of the states on this list as being home to many of the cities we ranked as best for LGBTQ couples to call home.

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U.S. Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage

On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage a Constitutional right in the landmark civil rights case Obergefell v. Hodges. In his opinion for the Court’s majority, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote:

No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were. As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death. It would misunderstand these men and women to say they disrespect the idea of marriage. Their plea is that they do respect it, respect it so deeply that they seek to find its fulfillment for themselves. Their hope is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.

Before the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the 50 states had differed greatly in their laws on same-sex marriage. On May 17, 2004, Massachusetts became the first state in the United States to legalize same-sex marriage.

Places like New York, Maine, Washington, the District of Columbia, and many Native American nations quickly followed suit, legalizing same-sex marriage either through ballot measures or court decisions.

Simultaneously, several states moved to ban same-sex marriages. Missouri, Kansas, and Alabama, for instance, restricted marriage through state constitutional amendments defining marriage as between one man and one woman or other legal measures.

Since marriage has both state and federal implications, this forced the Supreme Court to weigh in, ultimately leading to the Obergefell v. Hodges decision in June 2015, a decision that federally guaranteed access to state-recognized marriages for both mixed gender and same-sex couples alike.

Legalization of Same-Sex Marriage Around the World

On December 21, 2000, Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands signed into law the first bill legalizing same-sex marriage, making The Netherlands the first country in the world to allow LGBTQ couples to wed nationwide.

In the table below, you can see the 29 nations that have legalized same-sex marriage as well as the year of legalization.

Countries Where Same Sex Marriage is Legal
COUNTRYYEAR LEGALIZEDCOUNTRYYEAR LEGALIZED
Argentina2010Ireland2015
Australia2017Luxembourg2014
Austria2019Malta2017
Belgium2003The Netherlands2000
Brazil2013New Zealand2013
Canada2005Norway2008
Colombia2016Portugal2010
Costa Rica2020South Africa2006
Denmark2012Spain2005
Ecuador2019Sweden2009
Finland2015Taiwan2019
France2013The United Kingdom2013
Germany2017The United States2015
Greenland2015Uruguay2013
Iceland2010
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We believe same-sex marriage will continue to expand around the world. In large part, for instance, queer marriages are largely recognized in Mexico and Israel, though the nations have yet to pass federal legislation guaranteeing them.

Queer Couples in the United States

Same-sex marriage became legal across the United States when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled it a constitutional right in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2015. The United States is now one of 29 countries or jurisdictions that has legalized same-sex marriage.

Gay marriage is on the rise. Pew Research reports that:

“About one-in-ten LGBT Americans (10.2%) are married to a same-sex partner, up from the months before the high court decision (7.9%). As a result, a majority (61%) of same-sex cohabiting couples were married as of 2017, up from 38% before the ruling.”

In this study, we looked at where LGBTQ couples live to rank the best cities for same-sex married couples. We based these rankings not only on the concentration of same-sex couples in a metro area but also on a number of other livability factors, such as cost of living and average incomes.

Finally, we also looked at the U.S. cities with the fewest LGBTQ residents and the U.S. states with the fewest same-sex couples. As LGBTQ identification and marriage continue to rise across the United States, we believe these places will see not only an increase in the number of queer people but also same-sex marriages.

As you can see in the video below, queer people themselves are not a monolith, and they choose to live in a variety of ways in a variety of places.

From Portland, Maine, to Portland, Oregon, and from Seattle, Washington, to Miami, Florida, queer people make up an important part of the American landscape. And they’re as varied as that landscape, too, as we hope you’ve seen in this article on where LGBTQ couples call home.

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Speaking up: Same-Sex Couples & Where We Call Home

We asked a variety of relevant professionals, from wedding planners to lawyers, about the best places for same-sex couples to make a home. Read on to find out what they had to say.

Advice from experts around the country.

“I came out at age 38 after 18 years of traditional marriage and four children. As I began my Life 2.0, I searched for similar families so that my kids could start to understand that families come in all forms and they weren’t as weird as they felt.

Living in a very conservative part of town, LGBTQ families were few and far between. So I started the Pride and Joy Foundation and became a public speaker to support LGBTQ families and their allies.

One unique challenge that LGBTQ families face is that if we have kids, oftentimes the best school districts are not necessarily the best part of town for gay families. This is an issue that my family experiences.

In Phoenix, Arizona, the LGBTQ population is most prominent in downtown Phoenix. The affordable areas there do not have great schools. The best school districts in the area are far out in the East Valley, the suburbs of Mesa, Gilbert, Chandler, etc. These are also incredibly fundamentally Christian. This is our situation.

We live four doors down from a really great elementary school. Our teens can also walk to their high school, which is one of the best in the state. Because of the nearby schools, the property values stay high, and buying our home was a great financial investment.

Unfortunately, when my partner and I walk to the mailbox and hold hands, we get yells from passing cars. I literally have not been able to find another gay couple in either the elementary school or the high school. The teachers are polite, but we’re obviously the oddballs. Every school function is an exercise in staring contests. And that’s just what I experience. I have no idea the breadth of what my kids experience.

But if we were to move to be with other gay couples in downtown, we wouldn’t necessarily find them with families. Once they start having kids, they typically move to the suburbs and keep a low profile. It’s the exact reason I started the Pride and Joy Foundation. I wanted my kids to know that we’re actually pretty normal, even if it doesn’t feel like that.

If we move out of state, I’ll start by doing a ton of research to find neighborhoods with other gay families, and not a majority religion — especially one that is homophobic.”

Elena Joy Thurston is the non-profit founder of the Pride and Joy Foundation. Her foundation was started to support LGBTQ families and their allies.

Elena Joy Thurston is the non-profit founder of the Pride and Joy Foundation.
Her foundation was started to support LGBTQ families and their allies.


What are some of the U.S. cities that are best for same-sex couples to call home?
“San Francisco, California, has long been the number one place for same-sex couples to get married. San Francisco has a long history of tolerance and a generally liberal attitude towards people of varying ethnic and diverse backgrounds. Many same-sex couples like to call San Francisco home because the neighborhoods are very well kept, well maintained, and aesthetically pleasing.

Another popular city for same-sex couples is Atlanta, Georgia. The price of homes is very affordable, and the neighborhoods are very walkable. There are a lot of restaurants and bars in the downtown area that are extremely popular with the gay community.

Minneapolis, Minnesota, is another pleasant city for same-sex couples to call home because it is very Progressive city as is the whole state which legalized same-sex marriage in 2013, a full two years before the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), in which same-sex marriage was legalized on a national level.”

What U.S. cities or areas are not that great for same-sex couples to build a life in?
“The cities that are particularly unappealing to same-sex couples are those cities that have high incidences of crime. Cities with high crime rates are more likely to have an incidence of bigotry directed at same-sex couples.

Those high crime cities with a likely higher degree of intolerance towards same-sex couples include:

  1. Flandreau, South Dakota
  2. Morgantown, West Virginia
  3. Bismarck, North Dakota”

What makes a city or state particularly good or bad for same-sex couples?
“There are a plethora of states that have very weak hate crime laws and those states that have weak hate crime laws by extension have cities that are not appealing places for same-sex couples to start a life.”

Where are same-sex married couples buying homes?
“Many same-sex couples are buying homes in urban cities which are typically more tolerant towards people of diverse socioeconomic backgrounds.”

What unique challenges do same-sex couples face compared to their hetero counterparts?
“The unique challenges for same-sex couples compared to their counterparts are unfair discrimination that is oftentimes directed at same-sex couples, including discrimination based on employment, housing, and access to credit.

States that do not have anti-discrimination laws to protect same-sex couples from unfair treatment are unappealing to same-sex couples.”

David Reischer, Esq. is the founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com. David is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.

David Reischer, Esq. is the founder and CEO of LegalAdvice.com.
David is a licensed attorney with over 15 years of legal experience.


“San Francisco, including North Bay, is especially appealing for gay couples. Same-sex couples choose to settle in this area more than any other place in the United States. Washington state is the second most popular place to live for married same-sex couples.

LGBTQ+ culture is rich in these regions, which, along with neighborhoods in San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles, became a part of the burgeoning out-and-proud gay movement.

New York City is the location that sparked the beginning of the gay rights movement. It is still an epicenter for same-sex married couples.  These cities rank as most gay-friendly locales and a sizable percentage of the city population identifies as LGBTQ+.

In some areas of Texas, Kansas, and Mississippi, LGBTQ+ life isn’t as accepted. Some local governments in these states don’t rush in to help LGBTQ+ people get equal rights, a sense of belonging, or a feeling of physical safety.”

What makes a city or state particularly good for same-sex married couples?
“First of all, the political status in which the marriages of same-sex couples and the marriages of opposite-sex couples are recognized as equal by the law.

Since July 9, 2015, married same-sex couples throughout the United States have had equal access to all the federal benefits that married opposite-sex couples have. Same-sex couples must have full adoption rights and treated equally to opposite-sex couples in the issuance of birth certificates.

On May 16, 2013, the Every Child Deserves a Family Act was introduced to Congress but was never enacted.

This act would have stipulated that any organization that deals with the foster of children and has funding from the federal government could not discriminate against ‘prospective adoptive or foster parents solely on the basis of their sexual orientation, gender identification, or marital status or on the basis of the sexual orientation or gender identity of the child involved.’

And, of course, a good city or state for same-sex married couples denies discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Same-sex married couples should have full rights to get work, an education, and other social rights.”

Valeriya Istomina is a wedding expert and manager at Wedding Forward Valeriya shares checklists, collects analytics, and does surveys centered on wedding planning.

Valeriya Istomina is a wedding expert and manager at Wedding Forward.
Valeriya shares checklists, collects analytics, and does surveys centered on wedding planning.


“Austin, Texas, is considered a great place for same-sex couples to call home because the city’s LGBTQ scene truly has it all.

You don’t have to limit yourself to just one small neighborhood if you’re interested in checking out everything that the city’s large and diverse LGBTQ community has to offer. In fact, the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce put together an entire guide to LGBTQ Austin for people who move to the area or visit.

The Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce was founded back in 1997 and is one of the largest of its kind. It represents hundreds of small business, corporate, and nonprofit members who all share the same values of promoting equality and diversity in the workplace.

There’s also a special volunteer group called the Rainbow Patrol in Austin that looks out for the safety of LGBTQ individuals on Saturday nights and during special events.

That group was formed in response to an assault that happened in January 2019. It was an unfortunate incident, but one that led to increased protection for members of the LGBTQ community in Austin. The group is made up completely of volunteers, which shows the level of support in the community.

The Austin Gay and Lesbian Pride Foundation also throws one of the largest Pride celebrations in the state.

Whether you’re young or old, Austin’s LGBTQ scene has something to offer. There’s the Austin LGBT Coalition on Aging, for example. This group looks out for LGBT older adults and encourages service providers and senior services to understand and train their staff regarding the needs of LGBT clients, residents, and patients.

Austin’s first LGBTQ senior center opened in 2019, making the city even more inviting to same-sex couples of all ages.”

Liz Jeneault, award-winning news anchor, is the VP of marketing for Faveable. Faveable compiles reviews and research to compare popular products for their readers.

Liz Jeneault, an award-winning news anchor, is the VP of marketing for Faveable.
Faveable compiles reviews and research to compare popular products for their readers.


Frequently Asked Questions: LGBTQ Couples

We know you probably have additional questions regarding the state of same-sex marriage in the United States. Read on to find out the answers to some of the most asked questions on this important topic.

#1 – How many same-sex couples are there in the United States?

Data is lagging on the state of same-sex couples and marriage, and sadly, the 2020 census does not ask about sexual orientation and marital status. Married same-sex couples totaled an estimated 486,000 by October 2015, however, which is the most recent reliable data available.

#2 – What is the history of same-sex marriage in the United States?

Great question. The history of same-sex marriage in our nation is complex and has moved forward and backward and forward again over time. The History Channel provides a great overview of queer marriage’s history in this country, however, and we recommend checking it out.

#3 – Can gay marriage be overturned in the United States?

Sadly, yes. Supreme Court decisions are rarely overturned, but as the makeup of the Court changes, so, too, can its rulings in revisiting old cases.

Often times, this is a good thing. For instance, the Supreme Court once upheld school segregation on the basis of race, but reversed its prior ruling in the landmark 1954 case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, which, in essence, desegregated public schools across the United States. We hope the Supreme Court won’t overturn Obergefell v. Hodges, but it is always a possibility.

#4 – What states have the most same-sex couples?

Above, we covered the 10 states with the most same-sex couples. To reiterate, here are the top 10, in order starting with the state with the most queer couples: California, New York, Florida, Texas, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Massachusetts, Ohio, and Washington.

You’ll notice that these states loosely follow the states with the biggest populations overall. The place with the most same-sex couples per capita in the United States? Again, that’s our nation’s capital: Washington, D.C.

#5 – How do gay American couples compare to straight American couples on socioeconomic factors?

This is an excellent question, and the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute provides some solid research on various socioeconomic factors. Let’s take a look at a few.

  • Average income: The average income of queer couples is $56,000 a year, which is substantially higher than straight couples, who make, on average, $46,000 a year.
  • Health insurance: While 88 percent of straight couples have health insurance, only 86 percent of gay couples do.
  • College education: 51 percent of gay couples both hold a college degree, while only 34 percent of heterosexual couples do.

#6 – What countries around the world have also legalized same-sex marriage?

Currently, 29 countries have legalized same-sex marriage, though the number continues to grow. You can see our list of the 29 countries with same-sex marriage above.

Methodology: Determining the Best Cities for LGBTQ Couples

The thorough research process for our comprehensive studies, such as this one on the best cities for same-sex couples, includes an analysis of over 7,000 data points for all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia from a variety of government, nonprofit, academic, and industry sources. For this study, we ranked the best cities for same-sex married couples based on same-sex couple concentration in metro areas tabulated alongside other livability factors, such as average income, cost of living, walkability, and average commute.

Researchers at UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute provided the population density of same-sex couples by both state and county; characteristics of same-sex couples, such as gender, race/ethnicity, and age distribution; and the socio-economic indicators of same-sex couples. For the city rankings themselves, we relied on same-sex couple concentration data from a 2018 NBC News investigation, “U.S. cities with the highest rate of same-sex married couples.” Other livability factors were gathered from DataUSA and Walk Score.

References:

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/17/fashion/Washington-DC-has-thriving-gay-lesbian-and-transgender-population.html
  2. http://www.msnbc.com/msnbc/seattle-named-most-gay-friendly-city-in-america#52540
  3. https://www.hrc.org/resources/best-places-to-work-2020
  4. https://news.gallup.com/poll/234863/estimate-lgbt-population-rises.aspx
  5. https://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/visualization/lgbt-stats/?topic=SS#density
  6. https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2015/us/2014-term-supreme-court-decision-same-sex-marriage.html
  7. https://www.history.com/topics/gay-rights/gay-marriage

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