2010 Census Will Count Gay Households

No wonder Michelle Bachman is scared. Exactly how many people live in committed gay relationships has always been a matter of opinion, and hers was as good as yours. But official record-keeping will no longer turn a blind eye on gay households. In 2010, we will have precise, objective numbers.

The sharper focus comes courtesy of a July 31 legal analysis by U.S. Commerce Department lawyers that reverses years of Bush-era policy regarding the reporting of same-sex marriage, declaring that for the first time, data on relationships must be reported, state by state, as declared by respondents. The information will be presented unedited by 2012.

…up until this summer, an earlier interpretation of the 1996 Federal Defense of Marriage Act gave our sovereign questioner the right to edit out, essentially at the touch of a button, the mere existence of gay couples. It worked quite simply: If two men identified themselves as a married couple, one would have his gender identification changed on the government form to read “female.” With lesbian couples, one of the women would instantly be recorded as a man. Just like that, thousands of gay marriages were turned straight, at the gender-bending direction of a computer algorithm dictated by political ideology.

The 2000 Census did mark some progress, permitting couples to identify themselves as same-sex partners for the first time — though only of the unmarried variety.

The Human Rights Campaign web site offers tips on how to answer Census questions, which will still not directly ask for sexual orientation (maybe in 2020?). They list ten things to know before you respond, including:

5. LGBT couples who are married should check “husband” or “wife” on the census form. Other same-sex couples should check “unmarried partner.” The person filling out the census form indicates their relationship to everyone in the house. If you are living with your married spouse then check “husband” or wife” on the census form. Other same-sex couples should check “unmarried partner.”

6. The White House is seeking ways to include same-sex marriages, unions and partnerships in 2010 Census data. The Obama administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine what changes need to be made in tabulation software to include married same-sex couples in census reports. Citing DoMA, Census officials had planned to reclassify married same-sex couples as, instead, “unmarried partners.” This approach would result in inaccurate census data and belittle the lives of LGBT families across the country. HRC and other organizations continue to work closely with the administration and Census Bureau to ensure everyone’s marriages are treated with equal dignity and respect.

Census forms will start arriving in March.

One comment

  • August 6, 2011 - 6:12 am | Permalink

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