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Minneapolis has fourth highest rate of same-sex couples among big cities

According to a study of 2010 U.S. Census data by UCLA’s Williams Institute, among large U.S. cities, Minneapolis has the fourth highest rate of same-sex couples living within its borders. Neighboring St. Paul ranked 24th and Minnesota ranked 33rd among states.

While an anti-gay-marriage initiative will be on the ballot in 2012, a policy that would surely turn many same-sex couples away from Minnesota, some of the state’s communities are embracing the growing number of such couples within their communities.

Minneapolis has 3,831 couples, according to the Census, or 23.43 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. It lagged behind only San Francisco, Seattle and Oakland among of cities over 250,000 population. Its place among major cities hasn’t change much over the last three decades. It was fourth in the 1990 Census, fifth in 2000 and in the American Community Survey conducted between 2004-2006, the city placed third.

St. Paul has 1,346 such couples, or 12.13 same-sex couples per 1,000 households, ranking it 24th among cities with a population greater than 250,000. That put it just behind Los Angeles.

Minnesota came in at 33rd among the states for same-sex couples per 1,000 households. It was bested only by Illinois among Midwestern states, ranking just above Indiana and well ahead of Iowa (47th), where gay marriage is legal. Wisconsin was 40th, and South and North Dakota were 50th and 51st, respectively.

Minnesota saw an increase in same-sex couples of 50 percent over 2000.

In Minnesota, the top city of any size with the highest concentration of same-sex couples was Golden Valley followed by Minneapolis, St. Louis Park, St. Paul and Richfield.

In the U.S., the Census reported 901,997 same-sex couples or 7.7 per 1,000 households.

The numbers are prompting some communities to tout their acceptance of same-sex couples as a positive attribute. Pine City did not make the top five in Minnesota, but Pine County did — coming in third behind Hennepin and Ramsey counties. Some community boosters there have seized on those numbers. Pine City, home to 3,100 residents and located about an hour north of Minneapolis, hosts East Central Minnesota Pride, a LGBT pride picnic held each summer. The parade has garnered attention nationally for being one of only a handful of small-town pride events in the nation. And, the Minnesota State Fair Foundation named it a winner for the 2011 Community Pride Showcase.

“This event is one of the ways that the small town GLBT community can help to bring harmony to us all no matter where we live in this great state of ours,” said Dennis Burns, owner of DB Signs in rural Pine City, in a statement about the recognition. “I urge everyone to attend the picnic next summer.”

Nathan Johnson, Pine City’s city planner, noted that Pine City’s proximity to the Twin Cities, as well as its openness, has contributed to an increase in same-sex couples choosing to locate in the area.

Another reason for the concentration of gay couples in the Pine City area might be that the city lives up to its motto: “North. Nice and close.” People are coming here from the Twin Cities area, primarily, because of the great quality of life. The town is home to a health food store, gyms, a community theater and an arts center—not to mention the recreational aspects of the Snake River and nearby lakes. One can buy anything from hummus to sushi here.

And while Minneapolis has been named the nation’s most gay-friendly city, Pine City has evidence of a community that embraces gay residents as well — such as East Central Minnesota Pride.

Bottom line, as reported recently in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, the increase since 2000 in the number of same-sex partners reflects three changes: More gays and lesbians in the area; more choosing to live together; and more of them willing to identify themselves as gay.

True in the Twin Cities. True in Pine City.

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