Both internationally and in the United States, the policy landscape for same-sex couples is changing rapidly, and surveys report swiftly increasing numbers of immigrants in same-sex couples in the US. Yet few researchers have examined immigrants in lesbian, gay, and bisexual (LGB) couples on a large scale, especially regarding their relationship to LGB policy. Are these immigrants disadvantaged and fleeing anti-LGB contexts, or are they empowered to migrate by progressive origin-country LGB policy? Using American Community Survey data from 2008 to 2019 and original datasets indexing LGB policy changes in 122 countries and all US states, this study assesses and characterizes the scale of LGB migration to the US as well as the role of LGB policy. Compared to immigrants in different-sex couples, those in same-sex couples come from richer, more democratic countries that are less represented among immigrants in the US. They also tend to be more highly educated, work in more prestigious occupations, and have higher incomes. While previous work largely focuses on LGB immigrants from repressive contexts, fixed-effect models show that higher proportions of these immigrants come from LGB-friendly countries, and they are more likely to live in progressive US states. These findings highlight how sexuality as well as state policies seemingly unrelated to migration can shape migratory pathways.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
- LGB policy
- same-sex couples