The gay pay gap: Gays get paid less, lesbians earn more

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You’ve heard of the gender pay gap. But how about the gay pay gap?

A recent Australian study revealed that gay men get paid up 18 percent less than their straight counterparts. Studies in the U.S. and Europe have turned up similar findings.

A dozen studies in the U.S. analyzing Census data have found “a significant pay gap for gay men when compared to heterosexual men who have the same productive characteristics,” according to the Williams Institute, a UCLA think tank that studies how public policies can affect LGBT groups.


Depending on the study, gay and bisexual men in the U.S. earn 10 to 32 percent less than similarly qualified heterosexual men.

Lesbians, however, have been shown make more than their straight female counterparts; studies estimate the differential to be between 8 to 13 percent. Still, lesbians earn less than either heterosexual or gay men, the studies show.


Some of the most precise gay pay gap data comes from U.S. government employees.

A 2009 Georgia State University found men with same-sex partners earn 8 to 10 percent less than comparable married men in state government, even when controlling for differences in education, race, years of experience, and occupation.


Until recently there was not a single openly gay CEO on the Fortune 1000 list, the Wall Street Journal noted in a 2012 article. One of the most prominent gay CEOs didn’t publicly acknowledge his sexuality until last year. Apple’s CEO Tim Cook said he was “proud to be gay” in October 2014.

USC business-school professor Kirk Snyder found gay people are more likely to make better entrepreneurs. Snyder’s 2006 study found employees working for gay managers reported 25 percent higher levels of employee engagement.


Martine Rothblatt founded the bio tech company United Therapeutics Corp. and is today the highest paid female CEO in the U.S. She prefers the prefix trans. But Rothblatt’s success doesn’t reflect the experience of most transgender people.

According to the National Transgender Discrimination Survey, transgender people are four times as likely to have a household income under $10,000 and twice as likely to be unemployed as the typical person in the U.S.


The Australian study concluded the sexual orientation pay gap comes down to prejudice.

"There are grounds for concern that workers in Australia, particularly gay men, are discriminated against because of their sexual orientation," wrote University of Melbourne economist Andrea La Nauze in her study.