Metro Weekly

Census officials confirm that same-sex couples will be counted in 2020

Previous censuses only gave same-sex couples an "unmarried partner" option

Credit: Ted Eytan / Flickr

For the first time in U.S. history, the 2020 census will officially count LGBTQ couples.

The Census Bureau announced this week that they would be expanding the marital options to “opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse” and “same-sex husband/wife/spouse,” and “opposite-sex unmarried partner” and “same-sex unmarried partner.” Previous censuses only allowed two options of “husband or wife” and “unmarried partner.”

News broke last month that the Census would be updated to include the new options, after members of a limited trial of the 2020 census in Rhode Island reported the changes.

A spokesperson for the Census Burea told NBC News that same-sex marriage becoming legalized in 2015 “furthered the need” to create a distinct section for same-sex couples.

Previously, the only way the number of LGBTQ couples could be estimated was by cross-referencing the spouses’ answers to their gender on the Census.

Meghan Maury, policy director at the National LGBTQ Task Force was “a step in the right direction,” but “nowhere near what we’d love to have.” Maury was one of many advocates asking the Census Bureau to include questions on gender identity and sexual orientation, to which the Bureau said there was “no federal data need” to collect that information.

The Census also fails to recognize the full spectrum of LGBTQ Americans, particularly with regards gender identity.

“You know, these are all labels,” Cecilia Chung, senior director of strategic projects for the Transgender Law Center, told NPR last month. “But if we don’t have the proper labels when we try to look at the picture, there will be a lot of missing pieces, like jigsaw puzzles.”

A decennial survey, the Census helps determine how over $400 billion is allocated across the United States. It also determines the number of seats for each state in the House of Representatives.

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