February 15, 2013 | by Michael K. Lavers
Report: 10 percent of D.C. residents are LGBT
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(Washington Blade file photo by Michael Key)

A Gallup report released on Friday indicates the nation’s capital has the highest percentage of self-identified LGBT residents in the country in comparison to the 50 states.

Ten percent of the 493 D.C. residents who responded to Gallup’s daily tracking polls between June 1 and Dec. 30 identified themselves as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. 3.3 percent of the 4,195 Marylanders and 2.9 percent of the 6,323 Virginians who took part in the surveys said they are LGBT.

Only 1.7 percent of North Dakotans who took part in the Princeton, N.J.-based polling company’s daily tracking polls during the same period identified themselves as LGBT.

The report did not compare D.C. to other cities, but Gary Gates of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law told the Washington Blade he feels the statistics provide a more accurate snapshot of the country’s LGBT population.

“It was an acknowledgment on their part that this was a part of the population that was being talked about a lot and that there was not much data to speak to that,” Gates, who released the report with Gallup Editor-in-Chief Frank Newport, said. “I think they just saw that as an important investment.”

A separate Gallup report released last October noted 3.4 percent of the 121,290 Americans who took part in its daily tracking poll between June 1 and Sept. 30, 2012, said they were LGBT.

The Williams Institute in 2011 unveiled a study that estimates 3.5 percent of adults in the United States are either lesbian, gay or bisexual. The think tank also concluded nearly 700,000 Americans are transgender, but Gallup conceded in its Oct. 2012 report that accurately gauging sexual orientation and gender identity “can be challenging because these concepts involve complex social and cultural patterns.”

Harris Interactive, Community Marketing, Inc., and other survey companies already compile LGBT-specific data. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in June 2011 announced it plans to add a question about sexual orientation to the National Health Interview Survey this year, but the U.S. census currently does not include any that are LGBT-specific.

“I do think it is part of a general process that’s going on of convincing these surveys that this is a portion of the population that we need to some way measure,” Gates said in response to the Blade’s question about the report’s potential impact on the movement to make the census explicitly LGBT-inclusive. “It’s great that a health survey is doing it, but I’d love us to move it to where we get it more routinely outside of simply the sphere of health.”

Michael K. Lavers has been a staff writer for the Washington Blade since May 2012. The passage of Maryland's same-sex marriage law, the HIV/AIDS epidemic, the burgeoning LGBT rights movement in Latin America and the consecration of gay New Hampshire Bishop V. Gene Robinson are among the many stories he has covered since his career began in 2002. Follow Michael

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