Tens of millions of taxpayer dollars will be spent next year so the U.S. Census Bureau can take the temperate of America and figure out just how well we’ve become at filling every square inch of this nation with humans. But a growing concern was that none of the cash would be spent collecting mandatory data on same-sex couples living in the U.S. Just like censuses in decades past, we’d be marked “single, unmarried,” and an opportunity to be included in America’s biggest data set would be missed. Then some politicos started getting involved on our behalf, and then the Big Gays (Frank, Baldwin, Polis) did. And now? Results!
To be clear, in the past same-sex couples were technically counted — but only if folks opted to share that information with the door knockers. But under the Bush administration, Census Bureau officials (under the direction of the White House, we presume) blocked the release of any same-sex data, citing the Defense of Marriage Act. (In 1990, “the bureau simply altered the gender designation of one partner.”)
The new White House resident, however, might be changing that.
Camp Obama “has directed the Census Bureau to determine changes needed in tabulation software to allow for same-sex marriage data to be released early in 2011 with other detailed demographic information from the decennial count,” reports the WSJ. “The Census Bureau has long collected data on same-sex marriages when people chose to report it. White House officials said the previous administration interpreted the federal Defense of Marriage Act as prohibiting the release of the data. The Obama administration has abandoned that interpretation.”
To be sure, what the Obama administration has not abandoned: interpreting the U.S. Constitution to conclude denying marriage to same-sex couples is a violation of the 14th Amendment.
If the Census Bureau’s changes take effect, that would be terrific news. And the White House would score a point for correcting a terrible policy. It would also mark another example of Obama making decisions as a course of reacting to criticism, not enacting change because, as he said so himself, it’s the right thing to do.