If D.C. Were a State, It Would Have a City’s Demographics

Gay for a state, but really just a city.

Photo by Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

Jeremy Peters’ New York Times article on the transformation of gay lifestyles in official Washington, D.C., is a good read, but this kind of statistics-wrangling drives me crazy:

But don’t take my word for it. Consider what surveys by Gallup and the Census Bureau have found about the gay population here. When the District of Columbia is compared with the 50 states, it has the highest percentage of adults who identify as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender, according to Gallup. At 10 percent, that is double the percentage in the state that ranks No. 2, Hawaii, and nearly triple the overall national average of 3.5 percent.

The Census Bureau looked at where the highest percentage of same-sex couple households were and also found that the District of Columbia ranked far higher than the 50 states, with 4 percent. The national average is just under 1 percent.

I’ve lived in D.C. for 10 years. As a matter of political justice, I think the quasi-disenfranchisement of D.C. residents is scandalous. We have a larger population than a few states and ought to be made a state ourselves. But as a matter of demographics, comparing D.C. to the 50 states leads to madness. If D.C. were a state, it would have the demographic characteristics of a central city. Because of course that’s what it is. You have to compare D.C. to other cities to say something interesting. Or else you can compare the D.C. metro area to other metro areas.