Since same-sex marriage was legalized a little over a year ago, Virginia has seen more than 3,500 same-sex unions take place, according to new data released this week by the Virginia Department of Health’s Division of Vital Records.
The figures reflect the total number of marriage certificates completed and returned between October 2014 and August 2015. Not surprisingly, most were clustered around the urban centers that make up the so-called golden crescent.
But the golden crescent also represents the state’s highest-density population points. Northern Virginia, Hampton Roads and Richmond lead the state, by far, in overall number of marriages.
If we splice the data a little differently to try to factor out that population edge, we see a handful of cities in the western half of the state pull into the lead.
In Roanoke, a little more than 11 percent of all marriage certificates returned so far this year have been for same-sex unions. That’s the third-highest rate in Virginia and more than double the statewide figure of 5.3 percent over the same period.
The single highest rate of same-sex marriage certificates popped up in Staunton with a tally of 12 percent. Bristol came in second with 11.2 percent.
These rankings reflect only data from 2015. Comparable figures couldn’t immediately be calculated for 2014.
Of course, these rankings also tend to be underpinned by a relatively low number number of total marriages.
Staunton — total population of about 24,500 — has had 14 certificates for same-sex marriages come through this year. Bristol’s tally for the year to date is 22.
Roanoke had 78 same-sex marriages over the same period — a still fairly strong number that put it in the top 10 statewide.
The mini-trend doesn’t bear out across all of Western Virginia. Ten localities have reported no same-sex marriage certificates filed since the landmark October 2014 court ruling was handed down.
Of those, four hailed from the west: Bath County, Bland County, Craig County and Highland County.
There are a lot of interesting ways to analyze all the data, and if you’re inclined to take a whack at it yourself we’ve got your back with an upload of the state figures here.