Certain wage gaps have been poked, prodded, analyzed, and bickered over so frequently that they're by now common knowledge; even if few agree as to what causes them or what to do about them, most people acknowledge that male-female and black-white earnings disparities exist. But there's a popular narrative—that gay men are city-dwelling yuppies with expensive tastes—that perhaps obscures another inequality: the gay-straight wage gap.
A study recently published in Gender and Society found that in Canada, gay men with partners earn about 5 percent less than straight men with partners, while coupled lesbian women earn roughly 8 percent more than coupled straight women. (Canada’s data is particularly useful because the country legalized same-sex marriage nationwide 10 years ago, and the country’s census records relationship status, sexual orientation, educational background, and employment status all in one place.)
Canada’s Gay-Straight Wage Gaps
In the American pay hierarchy, the pattern is the same: Heterosexual men typically earn more than gay men, who earn more than lesbian women, who in turn earn more than heterosexual women. In the U.S., there is currently no federal legislation that prohibits employers from discriminating against workers based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The Employment Non-Discrimination Act, first introduced to Congress in 1994 and reintroduced many times since then, still hasn’t passed.