June is LGBTQ pride month. We discuss what’s changed for LGBTQ couples, income inequality, and any differences in the way LGBTQ people invest.
Difference and Similarities for LGBTQ and Personal Finance
Hollis Walker: Hello. This is Hollis Walker with Jan Blakely Holman, director of advisor education at Thornburg Investment Management. Welcome back. Thanks for joining us for another episode of #NowMe. So, Jan, although there won’t be very many festivities going on, June is Pride month, celebrating LGBTQ people and we’d like to talk about that today. LGBTQ Pride month occurs in the United States to commemorate the Stonewall riots which occurred at the end of June in 1969. As a result, many pride events are during this month to recognize the impact LGBTQ people have had in the world. And in June of 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court struck down state bans on gay marriage. So, Jan, how has personal finance changed for individuals in the LGBTQ community?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well Hollis, most importantly, when the Supreme Court legalized marriage for all Americans, people in the community were given the same rights that heterosexuals had always been afforded. Not that it is a financial benefit but finally many gay and lesbian couples are recognized as couples and they are recognized as spouses when an emergency happens, and decisions need to be made for their spouse or their significant other. But in the financial realm, married gay and lesbian couples now have the ability to name one another as beneficiaries on their retirement plans and those instructions will be honored. They are considered spouses in terms of their Social Security benefits and they have the same status as heterosexual couples have always had.
Hollis Walker: And what about unmarried LGBTQ couples? How have things changed for them?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well essentially, they’re treated the same way heterosexual couples are treated. For example, they can register their relationship as a domestic partnership if they decide they don’t want to marry, and domestic partnerships give the two people in that relationship the ability to enjoy some of the same benefits that married couples enjoy. The scope of the benefits they receive is covered or determined by the state of residence and also the companies the individuals work for. So, it’s important to see how your state recognizes the domestic partnership status to determine how you will be treated.
Hollis Walker: And I think it’s important to say that domestic partnership is almost equivalent to marriage legally in some states. So, you need to know about those things.
Jan Blakeley Holman: Right. I think the biggie was though the Social Security –
Hollis Walker: Yes.
Jan Blakeley Holman: – coverage. That was the one that really made the difference in terms of marriage.
Hollis Walker: So, what do we know about income disparities, both among LGBTQ populations and as compared to heterosexuals?
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well, it’s difficult to find recent data. What I have is from 2016 and that came from the U.S. Treasury Department and it said that men in same sex marriages tend to earn significantly more than their lesbian or heterosexual counterparts. They said that gay men on average in a household had income of $176,000. This was in 2016, and that was $52,000 more than lesbian couples and $63,000 more than opposite sex couples. Now, when it comes to income of same sex men who want to adopt, the average is looking like men in that group tend to have incomes in the area of $275,000 a year.
Hollis Walker: So this makes sense to me now that we’re talking about it on an in depth level, because if you have two gay men, both of whom are working at fulltime jobs, and we know that women only make something like 77% of what men make, then same sex couples would just sort of naturally seem to make less than a couple with two gay men.
Jan Blakeley Holman: Right.
Hollis Walker: And the same is true also of the issue of lesbian couples making less money because women make less money than men period. So, all of this kind of makes sense in terms of the way we’ve understood income disparity in the United States for a long time.
Jan Blakeley Holman: Now I wouldn’t be surprised if that changes in the future, significantly, because if you look at baby boomer women, and maybe early Gen X women, they were part of the population that had to put a stake in the ground when it came to their sexual orientation, and it was challenging and maybe they were receiving pushback from employers and that type of thing, so to some extent many of them have been underpaid relative to what their millennial counterparts will be paid as they age in their careers.
Hollis Walker: I know that’s true. That’s true. And also one of the interesting things that could happen for gay men who decide to have children is that they may find themselves in this same quandary that same sex couples have had where one of them has to stop working in order to take care of the children in a financially feasible way. Never mind what they’d like to do so that income disparity could change as well.
Jan Blakeley Holman: Well, you know Hollis, my children are obviously adults, but my youngest daughter just had a baby and relative to daycare, they don’t know what they’re going to do because of this coronavirus thing. You know, she gets four months off from work but then what? So, it’s more challenging relative to daycare needs than ever.
Hollis Walker: Yes, I would think so. So, what about investments? Is there a difference in the way the LGBTQ population invests? Or should there be?
Jan Blakeley Holman: I don’t think there is except I believe that people in this community may have a stronger interest in socially responsible or ESG investments. ESG stands for environmental social and governance related investments. In other words, the type of investments where the manager puts screens on those investments to make sure that they are achieving certain things the investor is looking for.
Hollis Walker: Or not doing certain things.
Jan Blakeley Holman: Absolutely.
Hollis Walker: If there was a stock representing a company that you felt was discriminatory for example toward LGBTQ people then you might choose not to invest in that.
Jan Blakeley Holman: I think you would choose not to invest for sure. But you know that has changed too because when this type of investing first started, it was really what you don’t want, and now it’s what you do want. So, obviously they’re two sides of a coin but it seems much more positive to look for the things you do want an investment to represent or achieve or that type of thing than eliminating tobacco.
Hollis Walker: Right. Well, we’ve run out of time for today. Happy Pride everyone. You’ve been listening to #NowMe with me, your host, Hollis Walker, and Jan Blakely Holman, director of advisor education at Thornburg Investment Management. If you want to suggest a topic for us, email us now at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you’d like to hear more episodes of #NowMe, you can find us on Apple, Spotify, Google podcasts or your favorite audio provider or by visiting us at thornburg.com/podcasts. Jan can also be found LinkedIn. If you like us, subscribe. Share us on social media and leave us a review. Until next time, thanks for listening.
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