New Census data indicate that the South now has more same-sex couples raising children than any other region in the U.S., according to a report in The New York Times. Jacksonville, Fla., for example, has one of the largest populations of gay parents in the U.S. The news appears to undermine the widely held belief that Southern states are more unfriendly to gays than such places as New York and California. Is the South really more welcoming to same-sex families than other parts of the country?

Yes, the statistics do not lie: This "defies a lot of the common stereotypes," says Steven Thrasher in The Village Voice. And the numbers also show that gay parents aren't "all rich white guys" — in the South, black and Latino gay and lesbian couples are more common, and those groups are twice as likely to have kids as their white counterparts.
"Dixie is so gay: Surprising Census info about gay parents in the South"

This does not mean the South welcomes gays: The South still isn't welcoming to gays, says Dan Savage in The Stranger. In fact — "you gotta love the irony" — the number of gay parents in the South may be a direct result of homophobia there. Many of these parents had their kids when they were closeted and pushed into heterosexual marriages by anti-gay preachers — now, they're raising those kids with new same-sex partners. "The Lord works in mysterious ways."
"Anti-gay religious attitudes create gay families"

The South is just a cheaper place to raise kids: It is "unfair" to react with "shock and awe" every time "something progressive" happens in the South, says Samhita Mukhopadhyay in Feministing. The bottom line is that money matters, and "certain Southern locales may be more conducive to gay parenting is because it is cheaper to raise children in those places."
"Gay parenting more common in the South"

This doesn't alter the overall picture: Pay no attention to the Times' "spin," says Dan McLaughlin in RedState. In the South and elsewhere, the important statistic is that only a third of partnered lesbians and a fifth of coupled gay men are raising kids, compared with more than 80 percent of opposite-sex couples in their prime parenting years. The incidence of child-rearing among gay couples is still "very low by the standards of opposite-sex couples.
"The winning statistic in the same-sex marriage debate"