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2010 Census Won't
Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Responses

2010 Census Won't
Recognize Same-Sex Marriage Responses

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The U.S. Census Bureau will actively edit the responses of same-sex couples on the 2010 Census, classifying all legally married same-sex couples as 'unmarried partners.' "We are just showing the data published in a way that is consistent with the way every other agency publishes their data," Martin O'Connell, chief of the Census Bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, told the San Jose Mercury News Sunday.

The U.S. Census Bureau will actively edit the responses of same-sex couples on the 2010 Census, classifying all legally married same-sex couples as "unmarried partners."

"We are just showing the data published in a way that is consistent with the way every other agency publishes their data," Martin O'Connell, chief of the Census Bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, told the San Jose Mercury News Sunday.

The Census Bureau will be operating under the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act, which "instructs all federal agencies only to recognize opposite-sex marriages for the purposes of enacting any agency programs." According to O'Connell, the Bureau has not encountered any federal agency that tracks data on legally married same-sex couples.

Reached for comment by The Advocate, Gary Gates, senior research fellow at UCLA's Williams Institute, believes that this situation "demonstrates an unintended consequence of the Defense of Marriage Act." The Census Bureau, which enjoys a "well-deserved reputation as the gold standard of data collection," now finds itself "forced to change legal and accurate responses to inaccurate responses," Gates said.

The changes that will be made to Census responses will make it difficult to count married couples in states where same-sex marriages are legal, and impossible for married LGBT couples with children to be recognized as families on the Census. According to Census Bureau definitions, a "family" consists of two or more people related by birth, adoption, or marriage. "[A married LGBT person will] get counted as a single parent," Gates said.

"It's shameful," Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said of the Census policy. Minter told the Mercury News, "It really is something out of Orwell." (The Advocate)

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