Good news, gays: you officially count!
For the first time ever, the Census will consider married gay couples to be actually married. In the past, the Census switched them “unmarried” status. This is a big step for the Census, which typically moves pretty slowly in response to social and policy change. This follows a committee meeting in 2012 about better addressing LGBT populations. (Among the members of that committee: Shane Snowdon, head of the LGBT Health and Aging Program of the Human Rights Campaign.)
“We’re not as far behind as we could be,” one official told a blogger, which is the more federal-government quote we’ve ever read.
The Census actually has a pretty lousy track record when it comes to accurately reflecting queer relationships. In the ’90s, if you indicated that you were married to someone of the same gender, they simply switched the genders of one member of the couple. (Good lord.) In 2000, they marked all the gay couples as unmarried, since marriage equality wasn’t legal yet in the US. And in 2010, they switched the genders of a bunch of couples after determining that a lot of them had simply mis-identified their own genders.
So this leads to one big question: how accurate are these numbers, really, if the Census is poking them and people can’t even fill out their gender correctly?
And it’s about to get more confusing. In future surveys, couples will have an option between “same-sex spouses” or “same-sex partners,” plus questions about being in domestic partnerships versus civil unions. Ack.
But at any rate, we’re just glad that the Census is moving along with the times. It shouldn’t be difficult for them to understand that when someone says “married” that probably means they’re married.