Posted by Audiegrl
AP/Lisa Leff—The U.S. Census Bureau is making an unprecedented effort to include same-sex couples in next year’s national population count, but legally married gay couples won’t show up as such in the official once-a-decade tally, bureau representatives said Thursday.
Statistical problems related to the development of the 2010 census form and the evolving legal state of same-sex relationships led Census officials to conclude that trying to include married gay couples in the overall snapshot of household marital status could yield an inaccurate number, said Gary Gates, a University of California, Los Angeles demographer who has been advising the bureau on gay issues.
Instead, same-sex married couples will be added into the category for unmarried partners, just as they were for the 2000 census. But in a marked policy departure, the agency plans to make the data on same-sex couples who described themselves as married available on a state-by-state basis.
“The Bureau has decided to give us the information, but be a little cautious,” Gates said.
The decision to develop separate sets of numbers was a compromise position that was “less about politics and more about accurate data,” he said.
Gates stressed that it was important for gay couples to participate in the census, noting that information drawn from the last one had been used in lawsuits dealing with same-sex marriage and to lobby congressional representatives who may wrongly assume they do not have many gay constituents.
Because same-sex marriages were not legal in any U.S. state a decade ago, the 2010 census is the first for which the bureau has wrestled with how to count married same-sex couples. In June, census officials announced that they would make the attempt, reversing an earlier decision made under the Bush administration.
Gary Gates, is a Distinguished Research Fellow at the Williams Institute. He co-authored The Gay and Lesbian Atlas. His doctoral dissertation included the first significant research study of the demography of the gay and lesbian population using US Census data. His work on that subject has been featured in many national and international media outlets. He is also co-author of a study examining the interplay of diversity and the location and growth of the technology sector. He holds a PhD in Public Policy from the Heinz School of Public Policy and Management at Carnegie Mellon University along with a Master of Divinity degree from St. Vincent College and a BS in Computer Science from the University of Pittsburgh at Johnstown.