U.S. Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Tom Carper of Delaware have written a letter to outgoing U.S. Census Bureau director John Thompson asking him to explain why questions regarding LGBT identity will not be a part of the upcoming Census, the Washington Blade reports.
"As you have stated in the past, complete Census data is critical 'to meet a wide range of federal needs -- from providing apportionment and redistricting data as part of our representative democracy, to helping distribute more than $400 billion in federal funds annually,'" the two Democratic senators wrote in the letter, dated Monday. "This is why it is critical that the Census Bureau's process to include subjects to fairly and accurately count all Americans is impartial and free from undue interference."
The Census Bureau released a report in March stating its 2020 Census plans, which included asking about sexual identity and gender orientation. The bureau subsequently sent out a corrected report that included no mention of those questions, leading critics to say the Trump administration was "erasing" LGBT people, the Blade notes.
Thompson responded to the criticism by saying that the retraction came because there was "no federal data need" to ask those questions. Thompson also said it takes years to decide what questions are included on the Census. Members of Congress requested in 2016 that questions about LGBT identity be among them, but it is not clear that the decision not to include these questions came from President Trump or any member of his administration. However, Harris and Carper pointed out that the Department of Justice had also asked in 2016 that the questions be included, but rescinded its request this year, after the change in administrations.
Harris and Carper are asking Thompson to respond by June 19 with more information about the bureau's decision, including communications related to the decision, and explanations of how requests from Congress are reviewed and how the bureau decides what subjects are included in the census, reports the Blade.