While current United States immigration policy is based primarily on family reunification, it does not provide any rights for unmarried partners of citizens. In order to inform current legislative debates about expanding the policy of family reunification to include same-sex couples, this report provides a demographic and geographic portrait of bi-national same-sex "unmarried partners" from Census 2000.
Key findings of this report include:
- Approximately 35,820 of the 594,391 same-sex unmarried partner couples (6%) counted in Census 2000 are bi-national couples.
- A larger percentage of same-sex couples (6%) than different-sex unmarried (5.2%) or married (4.6%) couples are bi-national. If the Uniting American Families Act were to pass and same-sex couples behaved as their married counterparts, then approximately 8,500 same-sex couples would likely seek immigration rights for the non-citizen partner.
- Mexico is the home country for 30% (10,766) of the non-citizens in same-sex bi-national couples, compared with 38% of all non-citizens in the United States. Canada, the second highest country of origin, is home to 6% (2,159) of the non-citizen partners in same-sex bi-national couples, followed by El Salvador, Germany, and the Philippines.
- Thirty-six percent of bi-national same-sex couples are comprised of a foreign born non-citizen and a foreign born citizen. The non-citizen and citizen in 82% of these couples share the same country of origin. In short, over 30% of all bi-national same-sex couples in the U.S. are comprised of partners who were both born in the same foreign country. (Fourteen percent of all bi-national same-sex couples in the U.S. are comprised of partners who were both born in Mexico.)
- California ranks first in the total number of same-sex bi-national couples. Nearly 30% of same-sex bi-national couples in the United States, more than 10,000 such couples, live in California.
- In 79% of bi-national same-sex couples, the non-citizen partner comes from a country that does not provide immigration rights to unmarried couples. For these couples, neither partner lives in a county that will allow the other partner to immigrate based on their relationship.
- Among bi-national couples, more than a third of same-sex male couples and 58% of female same-sex couples report having children under age 18 in the home.
- Children under age 18 being raised by bi-national same-sex couples are less likely to be citizens than children being raised by bi-national married couples. Ninety percent of children of bi-national married couples are citizens, compared with 83% of bi-national male-male couples and 87% of bi-national female-female couples.
- Same-sex bi-national couples are more likely to have been together at least five years (28% of male couples and 30% of female couples) than their different-sex unmarried counterparts (17%), but less likely to have been together five years than bi-national married couples (41%).