urban institute nonprofit social and economic policy research

The Demographics of Diversity

Why Cities Are Courting the Gay and Lesbian Community

Document date: June 03, 2003
Released online: June 03, 2003

ROBERT REISCHAUER, Urban Institute: I'm Bob Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute, and I want to welcome you all here to this First Tuesday forum. These are monthly gatherings that the Urban Institute sponsors that feature some interesting research that's going on at the Institute and some interesting perspectives from people who are in the field and people who have other perspectives on these topics.

Today, we're going to discuss the demographics of diversity, the cultural and economic attraction that gay and lesbian populations bring to urban areas and the role that they play in development and the dynamism of local economies. We will have this discussion moderated by Cheryl Corley, who, as anyone who listens to National Public Radio knows, is a senior reporter in the Midwest Bureau of NPR and is frequently heard on Morning Edition and All Things Considered and other programs. She was the news director for the Chicago public radio station WBEZ, has received awards from numerous associations involving the media, and was a former member and past president of the board of directors of the Community Television Networks.

The first presenter will be Gary Gates, who is a research associate here in the Population Studies Center of the Urban Institute. He is the coauthor of the first study of gay and lesbian demographics using census data, and has worked on issues involving adolescent male sexuality using the National Survey of Adolescent Males. He was trained at the University of Pittsburgh, where he did research on these topics and AIDS.

Next will be Ruth Eisenberg, who is a partner in the Washington, D.C. law firm that bears her name along with Harmon, Curran, and Spielberg. She specializes in employment, disability rights, and civil rights law, and was a law clerk in the U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit. She, among other things, has been a coauthor of a volume called "The Rights of People Who Are HIV Positive."

Last but not least is Bob Witeck, who is the CEO and cofounder of Witeck-Combs Communications, which is a strategic communication firm here in Washington which helps companies strengthen reputations, heighten brand awareness, and increase the market share for their products among the gay and lesbian communities. Bob was also the director of communications for the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, and also held several other jobs on the Hill. He is a board member of the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association and has served on a number of other boards as well.

With that, let me turn this over to Cheryl and start the discussion.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: All right, well, thank you so much. And my thanks first of all to the Urban Institute for inviting me to participate in today's event, and to all of you for coming out to hear and take part in this discussion about demographic diversity and neighborhood revitalization, and a fairly new development strategy of purposely trying to woo gays and lesbians to communities that need some fixing.

And as those neighborhoods which have been so often—which have so often produced kind of a quandary for city planners, for community activists, for developers, and anybody interested in revamping areas that have seen just better days. So, how do you do it? How do you rebuild the city and revitalize neighborhoods and breathe new life into sometimes forsaken neighborhoods or struggling communities? And how do you bolster their economy and kind of revitalize them culturally? Well, some ways the people think you do it is by attracting business and company headquarters and constructing convention centers and adding new schools. Well, do you do that, or do you do all of that and more?

There are all sorts of theories about what's the best thing to do and according to one, one of the best things to do is to invest in higher education. There's a Harvard political scientist, Robert Putnam, who, with his social capital theory, says the way a city prospers economically is tied to the amount of civic participation that there is in a community and whether there is social cohesiveness in a community. The University of Chicago's Bob Lucas has another theory called the human capital theory, where he says, in order to create cities on the move, you have to have people who are educated, and a concentration of those people in communities.

So what are cities doing? Well, Detroit, I think, is a good example. You have a story about Detroit in your packet that kind of spurred me to go there, and I visited there. It's a city that, of course, that was ravaged by the riots of the late 1960s and has been trying to do a number of things to revitalize its inner city as well as outlying areas. I recently visited. When I was there, I watched construction crews building the new headquarters for Compuware and I saw small boutiques that were cropping up and I saw the riverfront development that is happening in that town, a new baseball stadium. And I also saw where Michigan's largest real estate developer was advertising its downtown lofts and apartment buildings in Detroit's weekly gay publication.

The theory, according to the Farbman Group, which is the developer, was all about demographics, about having a critical mass of gay people in Detroit's downtown to help spark neighborhood change. It's a notion that some people criticize or just don't believe, but a number of communities and businesses have come to embrace that idea; and they point to neighborhoods they believe are on the rebound, in large part because of the impact of gays and lesbians. For example, in Chicago's so-called Boystown, the city has officially recognized the history there of gays and lesbians by putting up rainbow pylons at the boundaries of the neighborhood. It's a trendy, upscale neighborhood now. Gays have been followed by, you know, upwardly mobile, straight singles, and couples with children. And there's a myriad of other examples that people point to as kind of the anecdotal evidence, including the revitalization of West Palm Beach and right here, Dupont Circle, and Adams-Morgan as well.

It's all proof enough for some developers and businesses and others to actively seek gays and lesbians out. And the practice, of course, raises a number of legal challenges, a number of political challenges, which we will discuss in part today. And we're going to invite you to join the conversation as well, with your questions a little later on. But first, our panelists, and we will begin with Gary Gates.

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Thank you, Cheryl. The question we raise in the title of the forum today is: Why are cities trying to attract gay and lesbian people? And I'm going to approach that from sort of two research perspectives. The first is my work as a demographer and interested in the demographics of the gay and lesbian population, particularly the kind of location preferences of the gay and lesbian population; and also the economic status of that community relative to other communities.

And secondly, I'm going to approach it from the line of work that I have done with a colleague named Richard Florida at Carnegie Mellon University that looks at regional economic development and posits sort of a theory that builds on two of the theories that Cheryl mentioned about what makes cities attractive; and specifically the role of diversity and tolerance as a tool not only of social sort of benefit, but also economic benefits.

So I'm going to actually start with the second one and provide, I think, my first answer to that question, why are cities trying to attract gays and lesbians. It's because they add to a social climate of tolerance toward diversity in cities, and that has specific positive economic outcomes for various regions and cities. The argument here is that a vibrant gay and lesbian community provides one of the strongest signals of diversity and tolerance, both within neighborhoods and cities. I have often called it sort of the last frontier of tolerance right now. I always hesitate to say that because I think there's probably some new kind of bigotry out there on the horizon. And there are some political scientists that have—a guy named Ron Englehart at Michigan who has looked at that and does argue that places with more tolerant views around gay and lesbian and gender issues tend to be the most participatory democracies in the world.

But just at a more sort of local level, my work with the census data shows that the typical neighborhood where a gay or lesbian couple lives tends to have higher proportions of nonwhite, higher proportions of non-English speakers, and higher proportions of foreign-born, all evidence of sort of higher degrees—if you think that people kind of vote with their feet and people live in places where they can be more happy and productive, then this suggests that these are indeed places that are more tolerant; and the presence of the gay and lesbian community provides a signal of that tolerance. But more than just a signal, I would argue that gay and lesbian people actually contribute to a community's tolerance and change the level of tolerance in a community.

And I think that's for two reasons. One, particularly within cities, gays and lesbians are fairly politically active, they are a politically organized community. And so when you get a high proportion or concentration of gays and lesbians, they tend to challenge ordinances and laws and policies and promote more tolerant views.

Secondly, as a community unlike any other minority community, gays and lesbians show up in all races and ethnicities and across all economic strata. And, as such, when they begin to challenge, these challenges tend to occur across all levels of our community. And for those two reasons, I think that gays and lesbians not only signal tolerance, they contribute to tolerance.

And what are the outcomes of this tolerance? Well, if you believe Rich Florida, the one big outcome is creativity. And he argues that creativity—it's more than just human capital, as Lucas argues that a city needs, it needs creative capital. That, historically cities and people located near coal and iron ore and waterways, today cities need to locate near creative people. And creative people are mobile, and so cities need to become spaces where creative people want to stay and live. And those are the people who are going to drive economic success.

So, I do a lot of work on location. I have told you a little bit about what places where gay people live look like. What do you think are the five—in terms of the concentration of gay and lesbian couples in a metropolitan area, what do you think are the top five cities in the U.S.? (Audience response.) San Francisco I heard. Portland, good. You're getting in—at least you're in the top 10, that's good. Some of these, I think, are typical ones that you would expect and some are maybe ones that you might not expect. The top five are actually San Francisco; Santa Fe, New Mexico; Portland, Maine; Burlington, Vermont; and Seattle.

And just to give you a sense of how those relate to sort of Rich Florida's economic outcomes, San Francisco is ranked fifth among all metropolitan areas in the proportion of its patents per capita, a very good measure of both creativity and innovation. Seattle ranks third in the Milken Institute's measure of technological output. Burlington, Vermont ranks third in patent production. So you have this very strong correlation between these indicators and the presence of gays and lesbians, and we believe part of that reason—not exclusively, but part of it—is this argument around diversity of tolerance.

Just for fun, I also looked at the five metropolitan areas—these were metropolitan areas with over a million population—that rank at the bottom in concentration. And those are Milwaukee, Cleveland, Detroit, Pittsburgh, and Buffalo, which—while I'm from one of those cities, Pittsburgh—I would argue that those are not necessarily the sort of engines of economic growth right now in the United States.

Let me move quickly, then, on to my second answer to the question of why cities might attract gays and lesbians, and that's that demographically, gays and lesbians are actually more willing to move into distressed neighborhoods, devote some income to improving those neighborhoods: improving the houses and improving the quality of life in those neighborhoods. And cities see that as a way to increase their tax base.

But one of the things I want to start with in that comment is by saying that often people think that the reason marketers, companies, cities, whoever try to attract gay people is that we're rich; that gay people are just wealthy and that's why we want to bring them to wherever, bring them to the party. And I want to strongly assert that there is no empirical evidence that that is true; and, in fact, all the empirical evidence we have is exactly contrary to that. I have been working on a project with the Human Rights Campaign with newly released census data that allows us to look at some of these characteristics. And in several large states, the median household income of gay and lesbian couples is roughly the same as the median household income of other couples; states like Georgia, Illinois, Massachusetts, and Michigan. And even in states where you see median household incomes higher among gay and lesbian couples, like California and New York, if you look at individual incomes, you find that incomes of gay men—generally median incomes fall quite a bit below the incomes of married men and are certainly not any higher than the general income of other men.

So, if gay people aren't rich, then why are cities trying to attract gays and lesbians? Well, one of the things that is different, particularly between couples—gay male couples—and, for instance, married couples, is the presence of children. Married couples are twice as likely to have children in the household than same-sex male couples, and they're also a bit more likely than lesbian couples. What I would caution, however, about lesbians is that there is a fair bit of evidence to say that they have children basically at the same rates as other women. One difference is that they tend to have them a little later in life.

So again, this might be a factor that's attractive to cities because when you don't have children or you're having children later, you need smaller houses, you are willing to go into maybe neighborhoods where school quality and safety aren't as important, and you're willing to take a risk on those neighborhoods. You're willing to go to those neighborhoods because, one, they have cheaper housing and hopefully you're a little bit economically minded, you're going to get a bigger return on that investment. And we have a fair bit of evidence to suggest that that indeed empirically happens. So when you look at the typical neighborhood of a gay male couple, in a sense, is those neighborhoods have a violent crime rate that is 27 percent higher than the typical neighborhood of a married couple. And even lesbian couples live in neighborhoods with crime rates 13 percent above those of married couples.

If you, on the flip side of that, look at median household value, the gay male neighborhoods have house values about 18 percent higher than those of the married couples, and even the lesbian neighborhoods have house values about 7 percent higher than the neighborhoods of married couples. So you have these higher crime places with higher property values. Again, not conclusive proof, but evidence that's consistent with this economic thesis that I proposed.

And it just suggests, I believe, that gays and lesbians are more willing to live in riskier neighborhoods, in return for potentially a larger payoff, and they have more income, what we have disposable income: if they're not spending it on children, they can spend it on their homes. So, in essence, it's not that they have more money, it's that they spend it a little differently than others.

So the payoff to a city, then, is increased taxes and, if there are less children, less stress, then, on the public systems like schools and other things. So cities sort of get a bigger return—bang for their buck. That's kind of my spiel, and I'm going to turn it over now to Ruth Eisenberg.

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: Hi. I have been asked to talk about the legal and political challenges that face cities and urban areas that are trying to attract gay men and lesbians to them. And in order to look at what makes a location attractive to gay men and lesbians from a legal perspective, I think I first have to give you an idea of the landscape and some basic understanding of that for gay men and lesbians.

And this will require taking a different perspective than some of you are used to because in the United States, some of us at least are used to thinking of things as fair. But when it comes to gay men and lesbians, the law is not fair in myriad numbers of ways, from the right to have sex with a partner to the right to get married, the right to be a parent, the right to get and keep a job. Since I don't have time to go into all of those, I'm going to try to look at two areas today. One is relationships and families and the other is the workplace.

First, looking at relationships and families. The family is a basic structure of society and marriage is the set of laws that societies have created throughout history to give legal structure to this set of relationships. And marriage provides a comprehensive set of economic and social protections to married couples and to their children. Many people don't know that there is no state in the country where a same-sex couple can marry. When we did a run-through of this last week and there were people in the room who didn't know that. Same-sex couples in Vermont can have civil unions, and those provide many of the benefits of marriage, but significant differences exist between civil unions and marriage, and if we have time later I can talk about those.

Let me talk about some of the benefits of marriage that are denied to gay and lesbian couples—to same-sex couples. For spouses: the ability to obtain health and retirement benefits from a spouse's employer; the ability to continue health insurance upon a spouse's divorce or death; the ability to take sick or bereavement leave to care for a spouse's child; the assumption that children born into a marriage are the children of both partners, this is significant and I'm going to come back to it; the ability to become a stepparent to your partner's children; the right to sue for a partner's wrongful death; the ability to benefit from state and federal, primarily, estate tax laws like marital trusts, that provide advantages to surviving family members.

And let me just talk about children born into marriages for a moment. Children have the right to live with their nonbiological parent if their biological parent dies. They have the right to access health benefits and death benefits from either parent—these are children born into a marriage. They have the right to financial support from both parents if the parents separate. They have the right to Social Security benefits if a parent dies.

Now, same-sex couples and same-sex families exist, regardless of whether they're recognized by the law. And these issues come up, regardless of whether the legal structures exist to support them. For example, if two women have a child together, only one of those women has a legal relationship to the child; the child only has one legal guardian. If the biological mother dies, who is going to take care of the child? Does the child have the right to stay with the nonbiological mother? If the parents separate, does the child have the right to financial support from both parents or just the biological parent? If one partner is killed, does the surviving partner have the right to sue for wrongful death? Does the child have the right to sue for wrongful death?

These issues were raised in spades around the 9/11 disaster, when, you know, I'm not sure of the numbers, but huge numbers of same-sex couples, one of the partners died. And there was a striking contrast in how the same-sex couples and the married couples were treated, because married—you know, the partner of the married couple gets workers' comp benefits as a result of the death, the same-sex couple survivor does not, and others. And Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, which does gay rights impact litigation nationally—and I'm on the board of—is handling about 30 cases by survivors in the 9/11 disaster.

Now, a lot of the things that I mentioned are governed by federal law rather than state or local law, and states that are trying to—or urban areas that are trying to—attract gay people really can't have much of an impact on federal law. And, in fact, in 1996 Congress overwhelmingly passed the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman and says that even if a state legislature allowed gay marriage that the federal benefits of marriage would not be provided. So if, as is possible, New Jersey or Massachusetts has gay marriage in the near future—and there are cases pending in both of those states—while people could have many of the benefits of marriage, they still wouldn't have Social Security, the right to sponsor a partner from outside of the United States for immigration, some things like that.

There are things, however, that local governments can do that would resolve these problems in a way that would attract gay men and lesbians. And the first thing that I want to talk about is domestic partnership. Domestic partnership refers to a range of policy and statutory methods for recognizing nonmarital relationships. And domestic partnership started out in about the 1980s, as both gay and straight unmarried couples sought to broaden the economic benefits that were provided in the workplace to heterosexual couples; primarily health insurance, retirement benefits, things of that nature.

Initially, domestic partnership was done in the private sector, and now there are thousands of companies that provide the same benefits to same-sex couples as to married couples. And, in fact, I think that really fits in with what you were saying; companies that want to attract really good people adopt these domestic partnership policies. In Washington, D.C., almost every law firm has domestic partnership benefits because they want to get the best people, and that includes gay people. About a third of the Fortune 500 companies have this, and I think there's about 4500 companies at least that now have domestic partnership benefits.

Well, increasingly, state and local governments have also begun domestic partnership programs. In some places, these are just symbolic registries where you can register your domestic partner with the state or the city. But in other places, they actually have some benefits. The right—primarily, they're benefits for the partners of public employees: medical, dental, vision care, life insurance, tuition assistance, bereavement and sick leave. There are 11 states and the District of Columbia that grant benefits, economic benefits, to the domestic partners of gay men and lesbians, and there are 130 cities. I'm not sure if the low cities on Gary's list were in there or not.

Okay, things that municipalities can do to attract more gay people, from a legal perspective. One, enact domestic partnership laws. Even if it's just a registry, you can put it on your website and it shows that you welcome gay people. But why limit it to a registry? Two, equal benefits ordinances. This is something that started in San Francisco, it was adopted in San Francisco in 1997: any company that wants to do business with the government must provide domestic partnership benefits equal to those of married couples. And then, finally, maybe what these cities need to do is get active on a state level and enact some of these family benefits that can only be done on a state level: legal recognition of parent/child relationships, ability to jointly adopt children, two-parent adoption, et cetera.

I'm being told that I'm out of time so I'm not going to talk about the workplace now, but if there's time later I will talk about workplace fairness and also what's on the cutting edge of gay rights and what to look for in the future.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: Thank you, Ruth. I'm Bob Witeck. Now that Gary has given us this demographic snapshot of what urban life is about with gays and lesbians and Ruth has given us this challenge about the legal barriers and political/social barriers we face in urban America, I think of my part of this presentation as truly talking about capitalistic acts between consenting adults. I mean, that's what it comes down to.

Wes Combs, the cofounder of our firm, is sitting right over here. Ten years ago when we founded our business and marketing practice here, one of the things we were determined to become was a bridge between corporate America and the gay and lesbian community, the marketplace. The more [time] I spent on Capitol Hill, about 10 years, I began to realize that, politically, change is a lot more glacial than it often happens in the marketplace; that the economic lives, attitudes, and behaviors of gay people are changing dramatically—what's happening in corporate America and that's changing the face of urban America. But the challenge, and Gary pointed it accurately, it's always been to measure, quantify, and identify the impact of gays and lesbians, the impact that we have in cities and in our economy.

The early market research had been based on flawed approaches. It was based largely on hype, and simply labeled urban gay white males as a dream market. And it was unsophisticated, overstated, and clearly inaccurate. And it was a snapshot of a segment within a segment of a segment. But in our minds, it did not tell the complex mosaic, or more about the lives or the households of gays and lesbians; nor about their attitudes and their economic behaviors.

Our questions were basic. What about urban versus suburban? What about travel? What about entrepreneurs? What about trust in financial institutions, a major issue for all of us, the fear of stigma in the workplace or from retailers when you're just shopping? What about employment discrimination, when you can't self-identify for fear of loss of your job? Brand loyalty, something all marketers want to know, do they have a loyalty to us as a marketer? Affinity for certain kinds of products like high-tech or electronic products. And then, of course, for cities, favorite hospitality and tourist destinations.

These are many of the questions we have, and so we were determined that we had to replace myth with math. We had to look at how we're going to be able to quantify and talk about these things, so that marketers seriously understood the story and we simply didn't try to lead them into believing the hype.

Now, I have got to tell you a little story because when we started about 10 years ago—we have worked for almost a decade with American Airlines, and we're proud to see their enormously progressive journey as one of the great leaders, I think, in the gay and lesbian community, welcoming a variety of different kinds of customers. But Wes and I were invited there 10 years ago this year. We sat down with some of the top managers in the company, the top communicator, the top lawyer, and the top doctor. And the one question that just stunned us, or at least made us smile, was the question I think the lawyer said. He said, do you think we have many gay people working at American Airlines? Now, you know, one level that makes you grin, but then you realize, you know, he doesn't know. How does he know? Nobody ever asked anybody, they haven't even spoken to them. And in the room was a good friend of ours who then was in the closet, and didn't identify even in the meeting. So we really had to know, how do we know what we know and how do we make gay people three-dimensional?

Almost four years ago, we began a partnership with the Harris Poll. It's today called Harris Interactive, but after 40 years of all kinds of research and a commitment to the kinds of social issues and market issues that we wanted asked. They partnered with us to come out with an online solution to look at this. What they created is an enormous online panel across America, multimillion, of double opt-in, completely anonymous and confidential individuals, who agreed to be surveyed from time to time. Almost 20,000 of them in the base today are self-identifying as GLB—gay, lesbian, and bisexual.

They have known over the last many years—all research[ers] have found that face-to-face research has produced something around 1 percent of people self-identify their sexual orientation. It's a big issue for people who face stigma or loss of job to say who they are. Telephone surveys sometimes get up as high as 3 or 4 percent. But online has created, consistently, roughly around 6 percent self-identification and will enable us to contrast and compare gay and nongay people in the same panel, in the same sampling. Sampling bias obviously exists in all kinds of methods, and online it has as many or obviously more than others.

But what we have done is provided a method that does demographic weighting as you would in any standard research; but they have added another filter, propensity weighting. They model telephone surveys against the online survey and ask identical questions, and look for the differences in those groups so they can use some of the offline as proxies, and ensure that at least if they're not online that we're not overlooking them completely. You can also weight against that formula, and you come up with a reduction in bias that gives us some consistent and reliable and projectable data. And also, their disclosure standards conform to the rules of the National Council of Public Polls, giving us some confidence that we have learned something and that we know what we're talking about.

Now, here's what we have done. We have tested issues of brand loyalty: what makes up brand loyalty; what do they look for in a company, a city, a product, a service. We have studied corporate reputations, what people want to look for in a company. And what does corporate reputation mean? Do they want to see the policies and practices of the company? Do they want to see it advertised? Where do they want to see it advertised? Do they want to see gay people projected in their advertising? Do they want to meet gay people in the sales force, is that important? So we look at those questions.

We look at online affinity, which is far stronger for gays and lesbians than it is for non-gays. Every time we have tested this, the online interests, behaviors, and participation in the online community is far higher, proportionally, for gays and lesbians. We looked at Dr. Laura's impact on advertising, did she screw it up for everybody? I mean, is she just offensive to gay people? And we found a lot of good information, which we can talk about.

Product preferences, we looked at personal care products, pet products, financial services, information technology, home decorating, and lots of other categories. For our client, Ford Motor Company, we're looking at brands. We're trying to decide—you know, we know people buy cars no matter who they are. We're looking at what are the differences and similarities between a gay auto buyer and a nongay auto buyer.

Travel anxiety is a major category. Interestingly, I had a conversation this week with folks at Orbitz, and they discovered what we discovered during this last war that we were just in. And, in fact, after 9/11, gay travel stays relatively high. The anxieties are fewer, the affinity and need to travel, the propensity to travel, remains higher. In fact, they use a statistic in a story. It said that—last year it was—they estimated 1.2 billion was spent online on travel by gays and lesbians. And they have a micro-site, Orbitz does, that has targeted gays and lesbians. So they are doing trackable revenue.

We look at favorite destinations; why many cities and tourist bureaus are promoting gay tourism, given the higher propensity—let me just give you the list. I was just going through it myself, in terms of cities: Washington, D.C.; Atlanta; Minneapolis; Chicago; Philadelphia; Miami; Fort Lauderdale; Key West; Portland, Oregon; then Britain, France, Netherlands, and Paris, Berlin, London, and Lisbon. And I know that's partial. These are cities in which convention and visitors dollars are being promoting attraction of gays and lesbians to our cities, not just for their benefit, but obviously to benefit the businesses and gay-owned businesses that serve these cities.

You may not know, also, that the mayors of Paris and Berlin as well as Providence, Rhode Island happen to be gay. These are leaders in public office. Of course, I hope they're doing the legal changes that we need, too. And I did include, which you will see in your packet, this is the campaign we have helped advise somewhat on preparing this. The Washington Convention and Tourism Corporation has done a tremendous job, beginning in advertising and online and promotional outreach for gays and lesbians. And, in fact, this is one of the tools that they're using; but you will see these in many cities today, telling the story in a different filter, doing a different lens to bring gay travelers here.

All of the data that we have done in the last four years rather than—I have shared some of it in the information in the packet, you can review that, but in addition on our website. So if you want to look at some of the things I identified, some of it's non-proprietary, and we focused on providing that for clients and for the general public.

But the thing that has changed in 10 years in the work that we have been doing is that we know that gays and lesbians are far more visible, more important, they're far more countable and they're far more significant contributors to our social fabric and urban life. They are single and couple, they're parenting and raising kids, opening businesses, shopping and traveling, running city councils, holding federal office, and affecting public life. But what is changed is how we hold up the tools today to measure this impact, and to put a human face and authentic data to understand this impact. As Gary and Rich Florida attest, the cities and communities that understand this impact and embrace it are going to be the winners in the economy.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Thank you all. I'm going to open it up for questions in just a few minutes, but let me just start it off and address first to both Gary and Bob, since you're dealing with numbers and figures and you say you want to get rid of the myth with the math. But how can you be certain, or what do you think prompts people to kind of identify in a verifiable way that they are either gay or lesbian, and how does that effect the reliability, I guess, of the data that you're, you know, building all of your theories on?

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: Do you want to talk about the census?

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Yeah, well, I will tell you some of the work we have done in that. I mean, that's one of the biggest questions around any subject, which is just, what do you mean when you say gay/lesbian? And I guarantee you, you all think you know what you mean, and if you started talking to each other you realize that you all have different understandings of what that term means. And it varies all the way from someone who is in some way sexually attracted to people of the same sex, all the way to people who openly acknowledge this specific label called gay and lesbian; and there's a wide range of things in between that.

So some of the work we have done is to try to figure out when you—and you have surveys that sort of ask that full range of questions. You have some surveys that ask, are you attracted. You have some surveys that ask, have you had sex with someone of the same sex. And you have surveys that ask you to identify your orientation. And what we tried to do was look at those different surveys. And while you get, certainly, different prevalence in the population and you get some differences in demographic characteristics; one of them being, for instance, if you go to the more, sort of the loosest definition, that is where you get the most racial/ethnic diversity, you get the most income diversity, you get sort of the broadest group.

But you still do get common demographic patterns, and so the argument that I use from a research standpoint is that this is a really difficult question to answer. We have very, very limited public data available to study this, and even less data that's collected where you have a comparable nongay population to even determine whether these differences are meaningful in any way. And nonetheless, if you believe what Ruth said—this is a constant issue at almost every range of government and legal policy dimensions. And yet we know virtually nothing; we have, you know, very limited empirical evidence to work from compared to, for instance, our knowledge of the dynamics of marriage. And so my argument is that yes, there are biases, and we needed to always work and kind of caution around those biases. But I don't think that that completely eliminates the utility of the studies that we have done and the data that is available to study this population. And I think the more that we can encourage surveyors to include questions about sexual orientation, the better we can get at this.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: Cheryl, I will add this to Gary's social science. On social science, the scientists always say it's identity, behavior, desire: those are the three general measures about sexual orientation. How people—how they act, what their desire is, and how they self-identify. For a marketer, it's primarily identification, and for this reason. My question always comes back to, can you talk to them? A market or a city, anybody, if you can't reach that person, you can't know that that person's gay, they have got to tell you; they have got to self-identify. So, in testing it, when you're talking to them, you're looking for those who are willing to do that.

In addition, when we ask the question about sexual orientation, we go a little deeper and ask other filters. We go beyond it, and—for example, on bisexuality, which is a little bit more ambiguous understanding it, we try to find out what their last partner, what their current partner if they have one, is same or opposite gender, and we ask about their last partner. And then, in addition, we ask their behavior or marketplace questions. For example, are they reading gay publications or they go online to gay sites. Have they read gay publications or have they participated in gay events in the community. Those are the things that, if we're going to have a strategy that's going to target and communicate with them, they have got to be reachable.

So one thing we know is that they're undercounted. But we have reliability that at least the ones we are reaching, we are reaching because we know—they have told us who they are.

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Just one very quick thought, that is that I think one of the things that—while point estimates of things are harder because of some of the limitations of the data, I still think it's entirely valid to kind of look at trends and patterns, because you might not know that your number is exactly right if I say, you know, the median household value of all gay and lesbian households is this. We might not know what that precise number is, but I think we do better when we sort of look at relative comparisons and trends across—

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: You all have presented some really fascinating facts and figures; and, Ruth, you were talking about, you know, the number of cities or the way cities should go in order to attract gays and lesbians to their communities. And one of the things that you were talking about that I will let you finish talking about now is the push for domestic partnerships. And I was wondering, really, how our cities—you were saying that's the way cities could go. But are more and more cities looking as a way to offer benefits to city employees and are there other things outside of that area that are being offered by cities?

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: Well, cities are absolutely adopting domestic partnership laws. There's 130 of them and this is a phenomenon that has been in existence for less than 20 years. And, yes, the cities that you would expect—you know, New York, San Francisco, Washington, D.C.—are in that group, although Washington, D.C. not without a fair amount of congressional intervention. But a lot of cities that you wouldn't necessarily expect, Iowa City, for example. You know, there are definitely smaller municipalities and municipalities that you don't think of as having a large gay population that are doing this. Now, in terms of the bottom five, the Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Buffalo, I'm not sure about those.

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Pittsburgh does.

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: So, that was actually one of the things that I wondered because the other thing I had wanted to talk about was sexual orientation discrimination. As some people may or may not know, unless there's a law, you can discriminate. You know, we're all employees at will. We can all be fired anytime for any reason. And under federal law, we're protected based on our—(audio break)—that protection for sexual orientation under federal law. We're starting to develop it at the local and state level. But one thing I noticed was that both the top five—the cities with the highest population and the cities with the lowest gay population all have sexual orientation in the workplace protection. So what does it really mean in terms of how many gay people live there? It's hard to know.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Let me open it up to you in the audience if you have any questions you'd like to ask. Right over here.

AIMEE DARROW, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: How is that you're able to decipher the census questions into these are same-sex partners?

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: This started in 1990. The government wanted to collect more information on nonmarried couples, what in the research science field is called POSSLQs, people of the opposite sex sharing living quarters. And we can think of all the more common parlances for those. So to do that, to delineate that—if any of you filled out your census, one person fills out the census and indicates how everybody else relates to them. They added a category called "unmarried partner," different from a roommate or an unrelated adult or a husband/wife.

So what literally no one in the Census Bureau—it just never dawned on them in 1990 that when you collect data on POSSLQs, you're going to get data on PSSSLQs—which are people of the same sex sharing living quarters. And so it's people who are identified as unmarried partners. In 2000 that count also includes if—I'll use myself as an example—if I identified a male person in my household as my husband/wife, they would also be counted in—just so you know, in 1990 when that happened, Census changed the same sex person's sex because they said that just can't be right, so they made them a married couple. In 2000, the counts of unmarried partners actually include both of those.

And so that's what we're using. And we've done—part of my work has been to figure out, are those really gay and lesbian people? And so we've done that through a lot of comparisons and our short answer is yes, that for the most part we believe those are—that's a reasonably proxy for gay and lesbian couples.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Anybody else? Yes, right here in front.

PAUL DIONNE: I'm just curious if you would expect any significant differences between coupled partners and single partners, and is there any difference in straights?

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: The short answer is, yes, you would expect some differences between couple gay and lesbian people and single people. Again, we've tried to do across demographic traits, looking at samples where you have both couples and singles and the census data. And the short answer is they're pretty similar, from what we can tell, certainly with self-identified gay and lesbian people. You get very similar patterns: income patterns are similar, education patterns are similar, racial ethnic distribution is fairly similar, age, all those sort of standard demographic things that we look at.

One other sort of interesting way that we verified that was that I've done some work with—and this is more with the male couples—I've done some work with the Florida Department of Health, and they had mapped out their HIV-positive men who have sex with men population, and we superimposed that with the census map of same-sex male couples. And you would think that that sample is a mix of single and nonsingle, and in many cases gay men—not all gay men because it's based on who they're having sex with, not how they identify.

But the thing is that those maps are very, very similar, which gave us belief that we really, again, are capturing gay people and that the coupling thing, while we think it might matter in some cases across a lot of demographics, it's a pretty good measure.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Yes, right here in front.

WES COMBS, Witeck-Combs Communications: This is a question for Gary, and if anybody else up there can answer this. I received a call from a reporter about six months ago in San Diego who was doing a story about a community called Azalea Park. And it's a suburb of San Diego. And two heterosexual women in that community—and from what I understood, the community was a distressed community—had a theory, from what they knew, that gay people gentrify, or were quick to update their neighborhoods and invest in those neighborhoods. And so they took it upon themselves to take a float in the gay pride parade in San Diego to say, we want gay people in our neighborhood. This was done about 20 years ago. I think '83 was when they first started doing it. And the community has turned.

So I'm curious, is there any proof statistically in urban planning that shows how communities change so that we could actually, instead of saying this as a theory, that we actually have numbers—how do communities or cities, especially if you've got a community that's looking, like Boystown or whatever, to invest city dollars in a community, it probably has a lot of concerns from other aspects of the community who might feel those dollars might be better spent in other ways.

Numbers take precedence and let's take the emotion out and let's talk about facts. I was curious if you know of any studies that have proved this other than anecdotal?

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Short answer, no. I mean, because it's not terribly studied. I think there's lots of evidence that is consistent with the idea that gay people go in those neighborhoods—you know, housing values go up and the general tenor of the neighborhood improves.

I should also add that when we talk about gentrification, the flip side of that argument is always that some other people got displaced in that process, and that's an important thing to recognize and it's a very controversial subject. So we shouldn't just always assume that gentrification is this great savior of cities. It has its downside. But there's lots of sort of evidence that says these go together. What there's been almost no study, which is what you're getting at, is what's the mechanism of that? Why does that happen? I mean, we can sort of claim the economic side, and there are a lot of economists who say that explains it. It's a market, it's about people's economic behavior, and that explains it.

However, I also work with a lot of sociologists and they would argue, nah, people behave sometimes counter, and we don't have hard core studies to really understand that, other than—if you believe sort of the Rich Florida idea, it's that gay people signal high levels of tolerance to lots of people, not just gay people. And I think one of the things that I want to point out is that companies are offering domestic partner benefits not just to attract gay people. A lot of companies are doing that because they want to attract lots of other people and they know that the domestic partner benefits signal it, and they've been told that lots of times. And in the work that I've done Rich Florida, we've done lots of focus groups, and we hear over and over again college graduates who are not gay saying that when they look at cities they look for rainbow flags because that gives them a signal, and they ask employers whether they offer domestic partner benefits even though they're not gay.

So it's a signal, and I think one of the potential mechanisms is precisely that, that it becomes a community that has a higher degree of kind of tolerance and the dissonance created by difference. And so lots of different people manage to interact and suddenly work together where it's not a sort of fearful—the interactions aren't as fearful.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: But isn't the whole thing too that it has been all along a somewhat organic process, even though you had two women out there to say, come on to town now. But you see cities compete for convention centers and, you know, everything else. Are we really to the point now—and this goes to the premise of what we're talking about where, you know, cities are competing for gays to move there.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: I think they're at the point where they're measuring themselves up with their policies, whether or not they're going to be able to do all those things. We hear from businesses too when they say in the press, we don't need another baseball stadium; what we need are the people that can work for us. We want to find the highly educated work class that is highly motivated, skilled, interested, diverse. We want to look more like our customer base. They're saying those things. And they want roads to get them there—you know, high-speed transit and things like that.

I just want to tell you one anecdote. The other thing that's happened is we do have economics that show the cost of DP benefits, domestic partner benefits, and companies have learned through experience, through the actuarial use of them, that they are very low cost to negligible cost.

One anecdote, which I don't think is widely publicized here—I lived in Arlington County three, four, five years ago when they did it, you know, they instituted them in Arlington, and it's self-insured. They didn't even have a carrier, they just paid the benefits out and people paid their premiums into the system. Three years it was in place until a legal challenge, regrettably, and it's been lost to the Arlington County public employees. But in three years, the cost to the taxpayers of Arlington was nothing. They made $1,000 on the program; they actually made more in premiums than they paid out in benefits. So I think that's an experience that's widely shown, for a lot of reasons. Some gay people obviously don't include their partners because their partners already have coverage somewhere else.

Here in Washington we just, I think, won a battle. I don't know if all of you are aware of it either. Blue Cross Blue Shield's CareFirst, which is our carrier of our company, we regret that, as a company that advises Ford and American Airlines and IBM and others, which have equal benefits, we couldn't get them for ourselves. Our carrier would not make them possible for us to do it. We fought them for the last six months and worked with the mayor's office, and they finally caved. They were doing it for—like, Human Rights Campaign has more than 50 employees so they had the benefits, but for small businesses like mine, we could not get them. But now finally the marketplace has responded to what is a legitimate market need, and political pressure, fortunately.

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: I do agree with you though that I think there's a combination of an organic component that just—all migration has certain organic components to it. It's not accidental or random, but it's certainly an organic process. At the same time I think that these sort of issues of diversity and legal things work into that to maybe change the rate that it happens, not necessarily that it will happen.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Let me take this one here up front.

Q: I'd like to ask Ruth, and the rest of you too, what's on the cutting edge of gay rights? What can we expect from the future?

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: I would say the issue that is hottest right now in the next month is that the Supreme Court is about to decide the legality of same-sex sodomy laws in a case called Lawrence v. Texas. This case involved two men who were having sex in their bedroom and a neighbor with a beef called the police, and the police bust in and arrested the men for engaging in same-sex sodomy.

There are four states in the country that have these same-sex sodomy laws, and I think there's another nine that have sodomy laws that say people of opposite or different genders can't engage in those behaviors. And the case was argued to the Supreme Court in March, and on one of the next three Mondays, the Supreme Court is going to say whether these laws are legal.

And it's highly significant, not just for the right to have sex, which is important, but also because these laws affect gay people's lives in myriad ways. There is a case recently in Northern Virginia where a lesbian minister was denied the right to adopt a child because Virginia has a sodomy law. They're used all the time in custody decisions, in divorce cases, particularly anything having to do with children, but also employment discrimination—you know, courts have said, yes, you can discriminate because this person is a sodomite.

So this is huge, and there is the possibility that the court will say that all sodomy laws are unconstitutional because they violate the right to privacy. They may just say that same-sex only sodomy laws are unconstitutional because they violate the right to equal protection. So we'll know that in about a month—within the month.

There's also two court challenges right now involving the right to marry in Massachusetts and New Jersey, states that were picked because they have state constitutions that are amenable to the right, and where lawyers who spend all of their time looking at these things have decided that there's a good chance of a win. And I don't know if you heard the story on NPR—there was a story this week about in Massachusetts either one of the dioceses or the Catholic Church of the whole state is already predicting that the state Supreme Court will hold that there's a right to same-sex marriage, and they're starting to mobilize.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Right here and then I'll come back over here.

NANCY BUERMEYER, The Raben Group: I actually had an opportunity to do a similar panel with Gary in Salt Lake City of all places, which was really fun. And Ruth had asked the question about workplace protection based on sexual orientation in the cities that were mentioned here, but the cities mentioned here were just the big cities and there are two other categories of medium and small cities, and I actually did an analysis of nondiscrimination ordinances in those, and in fact, the lower-end cities did worse than the high-end cities in those smaller categories. So the top five of the medium were better than the lower five of the medium, and the top five of the small cities were better than the lower five of the small cities. And that rippled across domestic partnership benefits as well. So there were significant differences in whether they were considered good locations for gay people and what the laws were to sort of make that point that cities ought to pass more laws if they want gay people there.

I was also going to ask the question that Mark just asked, but since he asked that one I'll ask one of Bob. You talk about market loyalty or brand loyalty, people being, you know—to buy from companies that have been good on gay issues. As you've seen a broader spectrum of corporate America really come out and be aggressive about protecting gay people in the workplace and also marketing to gay people, do you find that that loyalty is more dispersed perhaps, or do people stick—you know, like are lesbians still buying Subarus or are they out buying Fords too? That's my question.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: That is now the complete urban conviction that Subarus and lesbians go together. Well, I think over time it has to change, Nancy. I think over time it will change because there's a generational change nonetheless. You know, there was a time—we've worked with Coors Beer and if you're a gay person of a certain age, you knew that it was a major battle with them. And there are remaining issues with the company, but the point is that there are generational changes.

I think what's going to happen sector by sector you're going to find the competitive edge is going to change. It certainly has—carriers all got on board very quickly, but American started very early—fortunately we get to work with them, but they started early and stayed consistent and they keep finding new things that they can do. IBM, which is one of the earliest, they've gone way beyond—early on they had the nondiscrimination policy on transgender that's global, which I don't even know any of the companies that have that—extraordinary.

So I think they still have cutting edge things to do. I think the law is going to always sometimes stay just a little ahead of where they're going to go in terms of practices, but their marketing is the real change. I think the next thing that's going to happen is broadcast. We've seen online and print broadcast for companies appealing to us. Broadcast is going to be the next place and some of them are going to be emboldened to talk to gay people on the airways, a lot more than they have in the past. Backlash is less of an issue. And so the affinity—I think some of them are going to really push on that barrier too, which will be good.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Why do you think backlash is less of an issue?

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: Well, I think it hasn't produced the results. I think the backlash—we've been watching and advising on it for 10 years. We've seen it with every company we've ever worked with, and what's happened—two things happened. One is we do not see a significant erosion in sales, or even measurable. And it's hard to say what's happening sometimes in the economy. Disney was sort of the poster child at one time on this, and they've had their ups and downs for a lot of reasons but they're a highly complex company with many, many revenues, not just theme parks. You know, they do publishing and entertainment of all kinds. One is they really haven't made a serious dent, I think, on any company's fortunes.

Second, most of these companies rightly say, its business. And they go back and look them in the eye and they don't blink. And as they go forward they see more upsides than downsides. And also, it's competitive pressure; they just can't blink if somebody's doing it. And most of the backlash has been politically motivated—politically motivated, not market motivated. It's designed to make a point to win followers. If it's the Reverend Wildmon or somebody else, the direct mail goes out the next day with the letter appealing for funds from his followers. He rakes in money for having a contest or a challenge against a company. But companies aren't taking the bait.

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: This includes backlash from the legal arena. Many, many of the jurisdictions that have passed DP laws or sexual orientation protection laws face a ballot initiative, you know, the next year. Just in the last election cycle, Tacoma, Washington, a town in Maine, another town in Florida that passed, you know, simple DP protections—there was a ballot initiative the next year, and in the '80s we lost these, but lately we've been winning them more and more and there are fewer.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: All right. The woman in the back.

LAURA ESQUIVEL, National Latino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Organization: I have two things; I'll try to make them short. One is about the domestic partnership law. There's one in California that's going to be voted on tomorrow in the assembly, AB 205. I don't know if it parallels Vermont's, but it's called the Domestic Partner Rights and Responsibilities bill, and what's different about this one is that it doesn't just grant some minimal rights to domestic partners, but it also comes with responsibilities, such as the—you have financial responsibility for each other. You have obligation for each other's debts; things that are similar to marriage.

So that's just something that, you know, one of the things that we're doing to try to gain support for it is that this could save the state millions of dollars. It's projected to save between $3 and $10 million a year, and in this climate that is a very winning kind of argument for why it benefits the whole state and everybody in it to pass these kind of laws, but my question—

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: Can I just answer that? It's not quite as comprehensive as Vermont's civil unions, but it's the closest that there is anywhere in the country.

LAURA ESQUIVEL, National Latino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender Organization: So my question was for Gary. This is just fascinating, the research—the analysis that you're doing. I'm wondering if you have looked at not only the differences between LGBT couples and individuals versus heterosexual ones, but if you've also looked at—if you have found significant differences among LGBT groups by race and ethnicity, and what those are?

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Yeah, unfortunately, that is in the offing. The 1990 Census data, you can get that information off of what's called our public use files, which tend to be samples of the whole population, and the same sex sample got precariously small to do a lot of analysis across the race/ethnicity categories. The 2000 Census captured many, many more, in part we think mostly because of better response; people were more willing to identify. And one of the things that I'm really interested in is precisely that, to look at, do you find differences across race? We do know already, for instance, that white people are more willing to identify as the term gay and lesbian than other racial and ethnic minorities, and certain terms—there was a recent study in New York that they found that certain terms like—it's becoming more common to use the term queer as supposedly an inclusive term, but for African Americans, they see that as a white yuppie term and don't like that term at all and aren't using it and don't see it any way—they see it as exclusive instead of inclusive.

So there are definitely dimensions that are different across these different categories. And, yeah, all I can tell you is that's in the offing as we get the better data to do that.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Yes, right here in the center.

CHARLOTTE HAYES, The Public Affairs Group: If you look at this, do you see it as—more in the corporate world I'm thinking about—are you seeing it in any particular industries, more on the consumer side because it's more brand and more market and more bottom-line based in terms of more acceptance of gay issues and the domestic partner things that companies are doing? Because I've heard the American Airlines story from Robin Burr herself, and she talked about you extensively about your company extensively and I've heard it from a number of companies that I've been dealing with like a power company, which I thought was interesting. And it did kind of come back to the CEO or top managers just saying, no, I'm doing this, and sticking with it. Are you seeing that as a trend?

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: Thanks, Charlotte. A couple of things. As you say, there's a bunch of me-tooism in industries, as you see, and the carriers are highly competitive, and you could see that happening. They'd always be looking over each other's shoulders, the competition. But the earliest were high tech—Lotus certainly, IBM certainly, and some others in that field. That really gives rise to the thesis Rich Florida and Gary Gates have about the creative clash because that attracted—had to attract some of the best and brightest of all kinds, not just that gay people are so brilliant, but you have to have a workplace that accepts and invites all kinds of, you know, idiosyncrasies and differences, and they certainly were there.

Interestingly, I have to tell you though, we find, over and over again that financial institutions, many of them are sort of—they have a very incremental approach to it. You know, they are not the emboldened type to talk. They're just not, but if you look around, there are many of them now—in fact, the HRC program, we're looking at the one in Atlanta, I think it was, it had four banks in it; four, and they are some of the major players. We're now working with Wachovia, but Bank of America, certainly Wells Fargo, some others, Citigroup. I'm just interested—the fact is that they are beginning to understand the complexity of it. You know, not everybody's household treats money the same way. We know there are gender based differences in handling money and people need to be talked to.

And also, they're doing more—let's put it this way: When they look at ethnicity and color, GLBT marketing is part of that spectrum that they are into. So if they're doing one or the other, they are usually now tacking on GLB or GLBT, and we find that in a number of—financial institutions seem to be one of those that are on the cusp. But it is sort of a me-tooism; it depends on the competitiveness of the industry. Travel and tourism has had this from day one. They got it—you know, they just got it. It was easy. High tech got it. Apparel, some of them get it. It depends on also the structure of an industry. You know, sometimes their distribution methods don't lend it—hotels are market-specific. So if you're in San Francisco you get it in a heartbeat, or sometimes you get it in other urban markets. You don't get it necessarily if you're in Kansas City—necessarily. So they are kind of, you know, differentiated in that sense.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Anybody else? Yeah, right here.

ELIZABETH HAGOVSKY, National Academy of Social Insurance: I just wanted to ask briefly if people have sort of been talking about LG or LGB. And I was curious, you know, transgender hasn't really been discussed much, and so I was wondering if everyone could just sort of share some, if any, information that you might have about transgender issues. Like, I know, for example, the University of Maryland just passed a gender nondiscrimination act. It included gender expression and gender identity in their discrimination—or their senate. And so I was curious what other types of things you guys are aware of, federally and otherwise.

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: Actually, transgender probably is the issue that's most on the cutting edge of gay rights. You know, everyone of these statutes that protects sexual orientation, there are moves to add transgender protection. Since I was mainly focusing on the family, the transgender issues are a little bit different since you have, you know—often in a couple you may have people of opposite sexes, and so just really it's different. But certainly the transmovement is one of the most vibrant parts of the GLBT rainbow and are advocating for changes in all of these areas and are making a huge amount of progress.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: They are? Is it on the radar screen—

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: It's absolutely on the radar screen, and every gay organization that used to be GL—well, they used to be G, then they became GL, then GLB and now GLBT, and people are looking for words that are more inclusive, like queer because, you know, we keep coming up with new identities, and that will probably never change. But the transmovement, I think especially among the younger generation, people in their teens and their twenties, really look at it differently than people who are my age—which will not be named.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: You say it's the toughest population obviously to segment or define because if you're having self-disclosure by some, trans people are harder, and they are just smaller numbers. But companies are getting it, and the leaders—the leaders are on board. The followers have to find them now and they have to join the ranks.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Yeah. This woman over here, and then we'll come to you.

AIMEE DARROW, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development: I just wanted to add to the transgender question since you brought up the University of Maryland, that in the State of Maryland, when we were working to get the anti-discrimination law passed, there was a huge issue, and for many years we introduced it with transgender and it had always been written out. And then finally, the last year when it did get passed it was introduced clean without transgender, but that created a movement in specifically Baltimore, and then Baltimore passed an anti-discrimination act that included transgender and gender expression, so—

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: One of the comments I'll make with that just something I think several people have said, and getting back to sort of the topic of cities is that cities are often the leaders in these kinds of movements, and sometimes they are big cities and sometimes actually they are very small cities. I mean, one of the probably more extreme examples of this is West Hollywood. I mean, it was a city literally created to kind of segment off and become sort of gay welcoming and gay and lesbian specific. So cities are often the leaders in these various movements, and when you talked about marketing and companies, I think a lot of that happens in cities, too, this kind—the movement du jour. And once cities start to mimic other cities, and so now for instance I'm aware that U.S. Conference of Mayors has decided that Rich Florida's stuff is the best thing they've seen since sliced bread, and they are going to start promoting this to policymakers and people within cities. And, you know, there is sort of a snowball effect then, and once one city starts it you do get the kind of mimicking behavior. But ultimately it often starts with cities I think who do it less because of the mimicking behavior and more because they believe in a particular perspective.

RUTH EISENBERG, Harmon, Curran, Spielberg & Eisenberg, LLP: One of the big issues in the national gay rights movement now is whether we can pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act in Congress, including trans-protection, and if you want to know more about that you can talk to Nancy afterwards.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: But it seems like you're saying though that a lot of the push is happening not—national organizations aren't working with other national organizations, it's happening on the local front more often.

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Yes. Yes.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Okay. Your question right here. Do you still have it? Okay.

CHRISTINE GRISHAM, Center for Law and Social Policy: A quick question about why the T wasn't included in your Harris work, if there was a specific reason, and also I'm wondering if cities and employers are marketing in those kind of cross-cutting issues like domestic partnership that doesn't just benefit same-sex couples. Are they doing those kinds of things? And you were talking earlier about how people look for the rainbow flags, but maybe they are looking for those policies because there are domestic partners that are of different sexes.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: I'll quickly answer on the Harris. Actually, they were included, and the reason that I did not specifically, for two reasons actually. One is because the numbers were so small they are really not projectible; it's hard for me to say what trans people think about certain things because the numbers just don't suggest the size of the sample.

The other thing is, and rightfully, trans people tell us the same thing—it's not sexual orientation, it's gender identity, so when you include it under sexual orientation questions it's actually in the wrong place. I think we want to know more about them; it's going to be harder. The journey for us is to sample them in sizes large enough to get a great understanding of who they are and what they want to talk about because their issues may be more gender-based than they are sexual orientation-based. So we didn't want to confuse them and we want to be more thoughtful or educated about the population. That was it.

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: The second half of your question I'll just comment. I think that again because politically the gay and lesbian movement has sort of been the more visible component of that, I think you're right. Many of these policies ultimately, particularly domestic partner benefits, can change heterosexual couples as well as they can change gay and lesbian couples. I don't know that places are marketing that intentionally. For one thing, I think a lot of cities and companies don't particularly market if they offer it to opposite sex couples because it does potentially become more expensive, and there I think economics—they know that if the take-up rates are only among same sex couples it's going to be not expensive at all, but when you add opposite sex couples it does change the economics of it potentially.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: With that I think we're going to wrap it up, sorry. You can probably catch them on the side here. Do you have any closing thoughts you want to make before we disband here? Let me ask you one last thing and then I'll let everybody go, and it's getting back to the concept of cities or people in cities because I'm not too sure about cities themselves actively trying to woo folks, but the whole idea of, you know, well, if gay people come here our communities will be better. Is that kind of stereotypical in some sort of way and how do you deal with that? Or is it a problem that you need to even worry about?

GARY GATES, Urban Institute: Yeah, it probably is stereotypical, but I think, again—my argument is that it's not per se about getting gay people; it's allowing cities to be places where all people who are different can be productive and healthy and happy, and I think those are places that are going to be more creative, more vibrant, more innovative and are just going to do better.

So I don't think gays specifically make the city, you know, that much better, but they contribute to that—if you use a Canadian context—to that mosaic, that if you go back as far as even in 1960, urbanists like Jane Jacobs, who has one of the foremost urbanist theories out there, she argued that all the time, that it's diversity that makes cities important, and so I think that's how I frame it.

ROBERT WITECK, Witeck-Combs Communications: I would just add the last thought on the fact that I think gay people truly don't want to live in isolation, and I would say that—we always say the gay ghetto, and we do think somewhat in that sense about Dupont Circle and other neighborhoods that are clearly concentrated populations—actually in Arlington it's quite concentrated as well. My view has always been, though, that people find, as Gary would say in more articulate science terms, is that people are really looking for a mix, and for gay people they are really looking for the same things but they want to feel safe, welcomed and respected, and if they can feel that in a city, god love it. It creates a lot of vibrancy in that city that otherwise would have been missing if they had not been there, or any other group, and so including them makes a difference.

CHERYL CORLEY, National Public Radio: Okay. All right. Well, thank you all for coming out. And thank you to our panelists.



Topics/Tags: | Race/Ethnicity/Gender

Usage and reprints: Most publications may be downloaded free of charge from the web site and may be used and copies made for research, academic, policy or other non-commercial purposes. Proper attribution is required. Posting UI research papers on other websites is permitted subject to prior approval from the Urban Institute—contact publicaffairs@urban.org.

If you are unable to access or print the PDF document please contact us or call the Publications Office at (202) 261-5687.

Disclaimer: The nonpartisan Urban Institute publishes studies, reports, and books on timely topics worthy of public consideration. The views expressed are those of the authors and should not be attributed to the Urban Institute, its trustees, or its funders. Copyright of the written materials contained within the Urban Institute website is owned or controlled by the Urban Institute.

Email this Page