published Sunday, August 28th, 2011

Same-sex couples on the rise in Chattanooga area

by Andy Johns

The number of same-sex couples grew by 58 percent in Hamilton County over the last decade and one California group has named Red Bank one of the top cities in Tennessee for single-gender pairs.

Data from the 2010 census show gay couples make up less than 1 percent of the population in the eight-county area surrounding Chattanooga.

But the numbers are on the rise, particularly among all-female households. Nearly 1,900 households in the region claimed to be single-sex partners on the census, up from 1,200 in 2000.

And Gary Gates, a scholar at the UCLA School of Law’s Williams Institute, said the real numbers are probably much higher. He said many couples might be hesitant to check the box because of social stigma.

“There [is] certainly a smaller percentage that are willing to identify themselves,” he said.

Gates and other researchers at the institute studied the census data about same-sex couples and found one prevailing theme.

“The truth is, same-sex couples are living all across the United States,” he said.

Growing numbers

The census showed the number of female couples nearly doubled in the region, compared with a smaller increase among men. The region includes Hamilton, Bradley, Rhea, Marion, Catoosa, Walker, Dade and Whitfield counties.

The institute study named Red Bank the No. 4 city in Tennessee in the number of same-sex couples per 1,000 households. The city trails Nashville, Knoxville and Shelbyville.

Red Bank has 50 same-sex couples, based on the institute’s adjusted figures. That translates to 9.28 per 1,000 households, or nearly one out of every 100.

No cities in Northwest Georgia or Northeast Alabama were ranked.

“Particularly among smaller cities, the data reflects that the LGBT [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] community has dispersed beyond traditional enclaves as social stigma eases, couples are more comfortable coming out, and a generation of aging and out same-sex couples begin to retire,” Gates wrote in the report.

What’s it mean?

Tom Buchanan, head of the sociology department for the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga, said the numbers for Red Bank are probably a product of a small number skewing results in a relatively small population.

“Even though they’ve ranked it fourth on the list, we’re talking about very small numbers,” he said.

He said that, statistically, same-sex female couples make less money than all-male or traditional households, so Red Bank’s low taxes and affordable housing could be drawing them there.

“It’s easier to afford a house in Red Bank,” he said.

Doug Bachtel, a demographics expert at the University of Georgia, said homosexual couples follow some of the same social patterns as racial minorities. One couple moves to an area and, if they find tolerant neighbors and other amenities they are looking for, word gets around.

“They’d say, ‘If you’re looking for a place to live, why don’t you come on down?’” Bachtel said. “Their friends move in and the friends of their friends move in.”

Nationwide 901,997 same-sex couples were counted in the census, and such couples were represented in 99 percent of U.S. counties, according to the Williams Institute. For the most part, same-sex couples are most common in major cities. Atlanta is ranked as one of the top cities in the nation, according to the Williams institute.

Bachtel said that probably won’t change until same-sex couples feel comfortable in more rural areas.

“It’s harder to have anonymity [in small cities]. Everybody knows your business,” Bachtel said. “You can kind of fade into the woodwork in a large metropolitan area.”

Connect with the Times Free Press on Facebook

about Andy Johns...

Andy began working at the Times Free Press in July 2008 as a general assignment reporter before focusing on Northwest Georgia and Georgia politics in May of 2009. Before coming to the Times Free Press, Andy worked for the Anniston Star, the Rome News Tribune and the Campus Carrier at Berry College, where he graduated with a communications degree in 2006. He is pursuing a master’s degree in business administration at the University of Tennessee ...

Comments do not represent the opinions of the Chattanooga Times Free Press, nor does it review every comment. Profanities, slurs and libelous remarks are prohibited. For more information you can view our Terms & Conditions and/or Ethics policy.
spktur said...

Just one more good reason to stay out of Red Bank

August 28, 2011 at 10:46 a.m.
harrystatel said...

The state has no business being involved in anyone's choice of companions or the marriage of same-sex, opposite sex, one wife or twenty wives. Voluntary associations are nobody's business.

August 28, 2011 at 11:07 a.m.
Momus said...

Misery loves company, welcome!

August 28, 2011 at 11:25 a.m.
macropetala8 said...

Same sex couples are NOT on the rise. They're just now in the open and being counted. dah!!

August 28, 2011 at 1:04 p.m.
rolando said...

The UCLA Williams Institute cited in the article is anything but a disinterested, objective organization.

It serves one purpose and has one goal -- to advance the homosexual/lesbian/everything-in-between same-sex agenda. Google it. Read its "About Us" tab.

Take everything they say with a very large "grain of salt".

And exactly what does "Red Bank has 50 same-sex couples, based on the institute’s adjusted figures" mean? Adjusted in what way? By tripling or quadrupling the actual numbers or "tweeking" them to meet their expectations, perhaps?

Whether or not the number of same-sex couples is expanding is immaterial to normal people. This publicity stunt is simply another attempt to socially recognize and legitimize a perverted -- and highly dangerous -- lifestyle.

Who, except themselves, really gives a s--t what they do to each other and which orifice they use to do it long as they do it in private.

I do not want my grandchildren publicly exposed to their socially and physically deviant lifestyle. It is that simple. I am tired of explaining the unexplainable to them -- sexually deviant actions.

Do it at home, not in public.

The homophiles here will undoubtedly call me all manner of vile names as they have in the past; however, they are the ones supporting, aiding, and abetting a sexually deviant lifestyle.

Someone up there said what same-sexers do in their own home is no one's business. And he was right; it isn't any one's business...until they bring it onto the public streets, at which time it very certainly becomes our business.

August 29, 2011 at 6:42 a.m.
osama said...

the devil,hell will be waiting with open arms!!

August 29, 2011 at 7:25 a.m.
XGSBoss said...

I won't call you any manner of vile names Rolando. I will call you a beautiful friend of Dorothy. I will call you brave for staying in that closet in the face of those nasty bullies, ready to judge you and your "condition" if it were made public. You must be strong to resist the call to action, knowing that the fight is a losing one and that closet door is a bell that can't be unrung.

Don't listen to those that say it's brave to come out and be counted. Google "Santorum" for guidance and soldier on little buddy.

August 29, 2011 at 3:24 p.m.
rolando said...

I have no doubts of my masculinity or my heterosexuality, sgsBoss [aka "Butch"].

Too often I have found homosexuals without a response always accuse normal men of being latent homos.

Only in your dreams, Butch.

August 29, 2011 at 3:57 p.m.
XGSBoss said...

And disproportionately, too often the most virulent homophobes have been closeted. Say hey to Rick Perry and Marcus Bachmann in there.

Your definition of "normal" and "masculine" needs updating grandpa. The antebellum times have long since faded away. Even, as the south grips them with it's lilly-white hand, it still passes to a new day. Don't fear us youngun's, we will be chaniging your diapers in a short few.

August 29, 2011 at 4:14 p.m.

XGSBoss,wow,a true to life bulldyke lesbo..I will bet you are a cutie.Most lesbos are like that because a man will not look at them..

August 29, 2011 at 7:34 p.m.
please login to post a comment

Other National Articles

videos »         

photos »         

e-edition »

400 East 11th St., Chattanooga, TN 37403
General Information (423) 756-6900
Copyright, Permissions, Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy, Ethics policy - Copyright ©2014, Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
This document may not be reprinted without the express written permission of Chattanooga Publishing Company, Inc.