Thursday, June 23, 2011

Census Data Shows Shift in California Families

This article begins with an example…

On a leafy drive in west Los Angeles, at a newly renovated home with cathedral ceilings and a backyard pool, 4-year-old Kate Eisenpresser-Davis' friends have been known to pose an intriguing question: "Why does Kate have three mommies?"

Lisa Eisenpresser, 44, and her partner, Angela Courtin, 38, share custody of Kate with Eisenpresser's ex-partner.

When asked to describe their life, Eisenpresser and Courtin respond with the same word: "Normal."

Yet Eisenpresser and Courtin can’t legally marry in California.

New census figures show that the percentage of Californians who live in "nuclear family" households — a married man and a woman raising their children — has dropped again over the last decade, to 23.4% of all households. That represents a 10% decline in 10 years, measured as a percentage of the state's households.

Those households, the Times analysis shows, are being supplanted by a striking spectrum of postmodern living arrangements: same-sex households, unmarried opposite-sex partners, married couples who have no children. Some forms of households that were rare just a generation ago are becoming common; the number of single-father households in California, for instance, grew by 36% between 2000 and 2010.

How many “single” people are actually part of a polyamorous or consanguinamorous relationship, especially one in which they are basically spouses and would marry if they could? There’s no way of pointing out on a census form, even if you wanted to, that you’re in a spousal relationship with your sister, brother, or some other close family member. I wonder how many “same-sex households, unmarried opposite-sex partners, married couples” are part of a polyamorous household?

The proportion of same-sex households rose by 25% between 2000 and 2010, increasing in every county in Southern California.

Analysts and many gay couples believe the actual number of gay households is not necessarily increasing that fast — but in a more welcoming world, the recognition of those households is.

This isn’t just happening in California. People can either bury their heads in the sand, or we can progress to full marriage equality so that everyone can get married if they want, thereby strengthening more families. Does everyone want to get married? Will everyone do best in a marriage? No, but everyone should have that choice so that they can get married if it is what they want and if it will help their lives.
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