This year, the U.S. Census will start recording households headed by legally married same-sex couples as "families," reports the Charlotte Observer.
Previously, any citizen who indicated they were married to a person of the same gender on their census form would automatically be recategorized as an "unmarried partner." Unmarried partnerships were not tallied as a "family" in official reports of census data.
This Thursday, the largest census form, the American Community Survey, was released with the changed policy, which was crafted in the wake of the Supreme Court's 2013 decision to strike down part of the Defense of Marriage Act and allow the federal government to recognize legally married same-sex couples, and extend to them the same federal benefits as other married couples.
This is the U.S. Census Bureau's most significant shift in how it counts queer citizens since 1990, when the Bureau first started counting same-sex couples as partnerships.
Supporters of equal marriage consider the step long overdue recognition, reports Pew Research Center. However, the data on same-sex marriage is unlikely to effect overall marriage demographic data for several years due to the relatively small number of citizens who fit the category requirements, Pew researchers noted.
The U.S.'s nearly 252,000 legally married same-sex couples comprise approximately .5 percent of the nation's 56 million married couples. This figure may even be inflated since, according to Pew, many opposite-couples accidentally mark the same-sex partner option when filling out their census forms.