9M Americans Gay or Bisexual
But we need better surveys for a more accurate number: demographer
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 7, 2011 7:19 AM CDT
A supporter of same-sex marriage holds American and gay pride flags as he awaits a decision to lift a stay that would allow same-sex couples to marry, August 12, 2010 in San Francisco, California.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – The true number remains elusive, but one demographer estimates that more than 9 million Americans—roughly the population of New Jersey—are gay, lesbian, or bisexual. Gary Gates averaged the results of five US surveys conducted between 2004 and 2009 to find that 3.5% of Americans identify themselves as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, he says in a report released today.

The results of the individual surveys ranged from a low of 1.7% to a high of 5.6%, the Washington Post reports. Gates notes that researchers have only recently begun asking respondents about their sexual orientation on health and social surveys, and adds that a more accurate number will only be found when people are asked about their sexual orientation on many other types of surveys not related to sexual behavior, such as those related to crime.