Same-sex couples population increases in Maryland

      ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) - New census data shows a 51 percent increase in the number of same-sex couples in Maryland in the last decade.

      Data from the 2010 census released Thursday indicates there are 16,987 same-sex households in the state. That's up from 11,243 households in the 2000 census.

      Gary Gates, a demographer with the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law, says all the evidence explaining the increase points to greater willingness of same-sex couples to identify their relationships.

      Gov. Martin O'Malley has said he will sponsor legislation in the 2012 legislative session legalizing same-sex marriage. Gay marriage legislation passed the Maryland Senate this year, but stalled in the House of Delegates.