A 2010 census snapshot of Louisiana shows the state has 12,153 same-sex couples — a miniscule number compared to the 768,198 of those identified as husband-wife families.
Putting a figure to same-sex couples is a difficult task, with demographers claiming the number is low.
The Williams Institute of the UCLA School of Law, which prepared a recent report on the census figures, says the same-sex couple number is underreported.
According to the institute’s report, it’s possible some same-sex couples are unwilling to identify themselves as such on the census forms because of concerns of confidentiality.
“I find the question (on the census form) very intrusive,” said Shreveport demographer and political analyst Elliott Stonecipher. “The answer is we really don’t know how many same-sex couples live in Louisiana and we can never be able to prove that.”
Kevin Serrin, chairman of the board of the Capital City Alliance, said he finds the Louisiana numbers right at the national average.
Capital City Alliance is a nonprofit group in Baton Rouge that supports lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
Both Louisiana’s same-sex couples per 1,000 households and the national average is at 7.03, according to the 2010 census data.
Serrin, 49, has been in a long-term relationship with a Baton Rouge man.
Serrin said his partner did not want to be interviewed for this story because he was concerned about possible repercussions with his job as a marketing professional.
“And that’s the kind of problem a lot of people in same-sex relationships are in here,” Serrin said.
Serrin said he hopes Baton Rouge and Louisiana lawmakers one day enact more laws and ordinances that protect lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals.
Joe Boniol, 57, and Lester Mut, 55, have been a couple in Baton Rouge for 18 years.
Boniol and Mut own a flower shop in town, All About Flowers on Perkins Road.
In 2000, Boniol and Mut had a blessing of the union ceremony with more than 100 guests and a reception.
Boniol said he and his partner have not had any problems living in Baton Rouge as a same-sex-couple.
“Les and I are out. We are not flag wavers. We are not extreme. We are just like the guys next door,” Boniol said.
Mut said he and Boniol have never tried to advertise their sexuality to anyone.
“People get to know us first and find out about us being together later,” Mut said.
Mut said he and Boniol associate with people with who do not put labels on others.
Although Boniol said he had a problem with a Baton Rouge church in the 1980s, the couple are both now Catholic and practice their faith and sing in the choir at Sacred Heart of Jesus Catholic Church on Main Street.
Grant Holloway, a 29-year-old Baton Rouge man who runs an online vintage furniture shop, said he and his longtime partner, an academic administrator at a private school, run into problems here as a same-sex couple.
The couple moved to Baton Rouge in 2003 after Holloway’s partner got a job here.
“I remember the first year here was pretty tough. We would be out somewhere and he (Holloway’s partner) would see a student from the school. I had to walk away and hide like I didn’t know him,” Holloway said.
Holloway said it’s aggravating that he and his partner do not have the same civil rights as married couples.
“I had to get a medical power of attorney when he was in the hospital. We have to try and find a car insurance company that will insure both of us together,” Holloway said.
Holloway said the couple has to be careful about going to a party or function involving his partner’s co-workers.
Holloway said the life of a same-sex couple in Louisiana in some ways has to be “voluntary isolation.”
Louisiana does not recognize same-sex marriage or civil unions.
Another Louisiana same-sex couple number that is exactly the same as the national average, Serrin said, is the number of female same-sex couples.
Of the 12,153 same-sex couples in Louisiana, 7,784 of them or 64 percent are women.
The national average of female same-sex couples is also at 64 percent, Serrin said.
New Orleans, Chalmette, Gretna, Lafayette and Hammond all ranked in the top five cities in Louisiana, when ranked by same-sex couples per 1,000 households, according to the Williams Institute report.
LSU demographer and sociology professor Troy Blanchard said cities that are less diverse usually do not grow as fast economically.
Blanchard said places like New Orleans and Lafayette have stronger arts and cultural centers than Baton Rouge, so they attract a more diverse population.
Blanchard said Baton Rouge has always been a more traditional family area.
“Baton Rouge is just not known for wide diversity when it comes to living arrangements,” Blanchard said.
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