Census: 131,729 gay couples report they’re married

Posted Sept. 27, 2011, at 8:19 p.m.
Last modified Sept. 27, 2011, at 9:09 p.m.

WASHINGTON — Increasingly visible, the number of gay Americans telling the U.S. census they’re living with same-sex partners nearly doubled in the past decade, to about 650,000 couples. And more than 130,000 recorded partners as husband or wife.

Census figures released Tuesday provide a rare snapshot of married and unmarried same-sex couples in the U.S. based on the government count conducted last year, when gay marriage was legal in five states and the District of Columbia. It comes at a time when public opposition to gay marriage is easing and advocacy groups are seeking a state-by-state push for broader legal rights.

Some 131,729 same-sex couples checked “husband” or “wife” boxes on their decennial census forms, the first time people could do so, after gay marriage became legal in Massachusetts starting in 2004.

That 2010 tally of married gay couples is higher than the actual number of legal marriages, civil unions and domestic partnerships in the U.S. Even after New York legalized gay marriage in June, a Census Bureau consultant, Gary Gates of UCLA, put the actual number of legally recognized gay partnerships at 100,000.

NASA: Satellite fell in south Pacific, not Canada

WASHINGTON — That dead NASA satellite fell into what might be the ideal spot — part of the southern Pacific Ocean. New U.S. Air Force calculations put the 6-ton satellite’s death plunge early Saturday thousands of miles from northwestern North America, where there were reports of sightings. Instead, it plunged into areas where remote islands dot a vast ocean.

NASA says those new calculations show the 20-year-old satellite entered Earth’s atmosphere generally above American Samoa. But falling debris as it broke apart didn’t start hitting the water for another 300 miles to the northeast, southwest of Christmas Island, just after midnight Saturday.

Experts believe about two dozen metal pieces from the bus-sized satellite fell over a 500-mile span.

Poll: Young people say online meanness pervasive

WASHINGTON — A new Associated Press-MTV poll of youth in their teens and early 20s finds that 56 percent have been the target of some type of online taunting, harassment or bullying, a slight increase over just two years ago.

A third say they’ve been involved in “sexting,” the sharing of naked photos or videos of sexual activity. Among those in a relationship, 4 out of 10 say their partners have used computers or cellphones to abuse or control them.

Three-fourths of the young people said they consider these darker aspects of the online world, sometimes broadly called “digital abuse,” a serious problem.

Conduct that rises to the point of bullying is hard to define, but the AP-MTV poll of youth ages 14 to 24 indicate that the share of young people who frequently see people being mean to each other on social networking sites jumped to 55 percent, from 45 percent in 2009.

U.S. death toll from bacteria-contaminated cantaloupe rises

At least 13 people have died in the U.S. from listeria infections linked to cantaloupes grown in Colorado, making it the most deadly U.S. outbreak of food-borne infection since 1998, authorities said Tuesday.

Seventy-two people in 18 states have become ill with listeriosis traced to contaminated cantaloupe, the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a statement posted on its website.

The Food and Drug Administration on Sept. 14 warned consumers not to eat cantaloupes from Colorado’s Rocky Ford region shipped by Jensen Farms. The cantaloupes with the brand name Rocky Ford were distributed from July 29 to Sept. 10 in at least 17 states.

Most affected people have been older than 60 or have weak immune systems, the CDC said in its statement.

The CDC last week said eight people had died in connection with the recent outbreak in Colorado, Maryland, New Mexico and Oklahoma. Since then, Texas reported two deaths from the infections, Carrie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of State Health Services, said Tuesday in a telephone interview.

Nebraska reported a death from the listeria outbreak on Friday. Kansas had one death linked to the tainted fruit and is investigating a second death for a possible connection, said Barbara Hersh, spokeswoman for the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

One death attributed to the contaminated cantaloupes also was reported in Missouri, the CDC said.

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