By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – New Mexico has the fifth-highest proportion of same-sex couples in the nation and over ten years has seen a 73 percent jump in households identifying as same-sex couples, according to a new analysis of census figures.
The report said 9.8 out of every 1,000 New Mexico households are headed by same-sex couples with most located in the northern part of the state.
Only Vermont, Massachusetts, California and Oregon had higher proportions of same-sex couples, according to the report by Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law, a think tank based at the University of California, Los Angeles
The Eldorado community outside of Santa Fe, the state’s capital, had the highest proportion of same-sex couples of any town or city in the state with nearly 45 out of every 1,000 households reporting to be headed by a same-sex couple.
Placitas, a town located just north of Albuquerque and next to the Santa Ana Pueblo Indian Reservation, came in second and reported 26.45 same-sex couples per 1,000 households.
Most of the same-sex couples- approximately 66 percent- were women, the numbers showed.
The report also said that since the 2000 Census that New Mexico saw the number of reported same-sex household jump from about 4,900 to around 7,800.
Gary Gates, one of the study’s authors and a demographer who studies sexual orientation and gender identity laws and policy, said New Mexico’s spike is likely a result of increased migration to the state and because more couples are identifying as same-sex households.
“New Mexico relative to some other states did in fact have a proportional larger population increase, which could contribute, somewhat, to why it has a higher increase in same-sex couples,” said Gates. “But again I think the bulk of that increase suggests increase acceptance and more people willing to report.”
New Mexico does not allow same-sex couples to legally marry.
Gates said there was a 50 percent increase nationally of same-sex couples.
Last year’s once-a-decade count of the nation’s population represented the first time the Census Bureau encouraged gay, lesbian and bisexual couples who consider themselves spouses to report their marital status as “husband,” or “wife” even if they were not legally married. Couples also had the option of counting themselves as “unmarried partners.”
Rodney Felix, 51, editor of gayinsantafe.com, said he wasn’t surprised about the news that New Mexico saw a jump in reported same-sex couples. Felix moved eight years to Santa Fe from the Jersey Shore mainly because the area was gay friendly.
“I think what’s shocking for a lot of people,” said Felix, “is that the community is so entrenched with the rest of the community that it’s just life to us.”