WASHINGTON - Nearly 150,000 same-sex couples reported being in marriage relationships last year, many more than the number of weddings and civil unions, according to the first US census figures released on same-sex marriages.
About 27 percent of the estimated 564,743 gay couples in the United States said they were in a relationship akin to “husband’’ and “wife,’’ according to the Census Bureau tally. That’s compared with 91 percent of the 61.3 million total opposite-sex couples who reported being married.
A consultant to the Census Bureau estimated there were roughly 100,000 official same-sex weddings, civil unions, and domestic partnerships in 2008.
Analysts said the disparities probably reflect the existence of same-sex couples in committed relationships who would get married if they could in their states. The numbers are also an indicator of the count to come in the 2010 census, a tally that could stir state-by-state fights over same-sex marriage, gay adoption, and other legal rights.
Nationwide, about 56 percent of the 149,956 total same-sex marriages in the census survey last year were lesbian couples.
“Even though in 2008 there were only a few states where you could get legally married, a large portion of same-sex couples either were married or chose to use that term,’’ said Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA who is advising the Census Bureau.
The Census Bureau is preparing to make an official count of same-sex marriages, unions, and partnerships for the first time in the 2010 head count.