The U.S. Census Bureau’s report to Congress on the 2020 survey includes adding homosexuals to the questions about relationships.
The questions, revealed as part of a trial run of the census taking place in Rhode Island, will give census takers a choice between married and unmarried same-sex, or married and unmarried “opposite-sex” partnerships, according to an informational sample linked on National Public Radio’s website:
The 2020 census is introducing a differentiation between opposite-sex and same-sex couples in order to improve the bureau’s data about same-sex couples. The bureau previously produced counts of same-sex couples from 2000 and 2010 census data using responses to questions about sex and relationship. Some opposite-sex couples mismarked their sex and were incorrectly counted as same-sex couples in initial estimates.
The new response categories for the relationship question come after Census Bureau researchers found that using the terms “same-sex” and “opposite-sex” on the census form could improve the federal government’s estimates of how many same-sex couples are living in the U.S.
Some demographers anticipate the change may help produce the most comprehensive national data yet on same-sex couples that can better inform public policy affecting LGBT people.
In a census FAQ, the bureau claims it has been reporting on same-sex couples to some extent for years.
In its demographic surveys, the Census Bureau collects the relationship of each member of the household to the householder (the person who owns or rents the home). In 1990, the category unmarried partner was added to the relationship item in the decennial census to measure the growing complexity of American households and the increasing tendency for couples to live together before getting married. The unmarried partner category was also added to the Current Population Survey (CPS) in 1995, the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) in 1996, and has been on the American Community Survey (ACS) since it began in 2005.
This change in the census is seen as a “symbolic victory” for those in the LGBT community.
NPR interviewed a lesbian couple who are taking part in the trial run census.
“It really normalizes our experience on an American government form so that everybody looking at it and everybody filling it out sees that we exist,” Wendy Becker told NPR.
But Becker and others are concerned this leaves out homosexuals who are not married or in a relationship.
“That means, for now, there are no reliable national data about how many LGBT people live in the U.S. that can inform public policy,” NPR reported.
According to NPR, the new census so far does not include “specific questions about sexual orientation or gender identity,” despite the Obama administration requesting so in 2016.
A Gallup poll from June 2017 showed that the population of married homosexuals is small.
“Two years after the Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell v. Hodges that states could not prohibit same-sex marriages, 10.2% of lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) adults in the U.S. are married to a same-sex spouse. That is up from 7.9% in the months prior to the Supreme Court decision in 2015, but only marginally higher than the 9.6% measured in the first year after the ruling,” Gallup reported.
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