The gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community is in better financial health than the rest of the country on average, a recent study found.
Not only do gay people earn more than the average American does, gay people are more likely to be employed, they have more money in savings and they are better at managing debt, according to a Nov. 14 survey of more than 1,000 gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people by Prudential.
The average LGBT household earns $61,500 annually, which surpasses the average national household income by more than $10,000. Unemployment is also lower within the LGBT community. Only 7 percent of respondents reported to be out of a job, while the national average stands at 7.9 percent. When it comes to putting away money for the future, gay households save on average $6,000 more than the national average. Gay households also have $4,000 less in debt.
The results are encouraging given the number of financial hurdles gay people face in today's political climate. The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans same-sex marriage from being recognized at a federal level, is one of the main factors that inhibits financial affluence among gay people.
Despite the fact that gay marriage is legal in a number of states, under federal law gay married couples are prohibited from filing joint tax returns. A gay person is ineligible to collect a partner's full Social Security payment after he or she dies. Divorce also generally costs gay couples more.
Financial constraints aside, gay people tend to be highly educated and live in more affluent areas of the country. According to the Prudential survey, 50 percent of respondents said they have at least a bachelor’s degree and almost 50 percent lived in big cities or big city suburbs.
That said, only 14 percent of respondents indicated they feel well-prepared financially compared with 29 percent of the general population.
On Nov. 5, Washington joined the ranks of six other states and the District of Columbia that have enacted laws or issued court rulings that permit same-sex marriage. LGBT residents in states that permit same-sex marriage were found to be more confident financially than those living in states with no legal relationship status, domestic partnerships or civil unions, according to Prudential.