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CHARLOTTE, NC (AP) — North Carolina is home to more and more same-sex domestic partners.

Census data released Thursday show that the number of domestic partners in the state jumped 68 percent in the last decade to more than 27,000 people.

Much of the growth is in western North Carolina and along the coast. In Buncombe County, same-sex domestic partners jumped nearly 110 percent. In neighboring Transylvania and Polk counties, that population doubled.

Brunswick and Dare counties also saw big increases.

It’s unclear whether there are more gay couples in North Carolina than a decade ago, or whether more believe it’s OK to identify their relationships on government forms.

Since the last national count, the population in North Carolina hit more than 9.5 million people. That makes it one of the fastest growing states.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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