“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.”
–Rhode Island resident Wendy Becker, who married her wife in 2006, telling NPR about the updated 2020 census, which will include options for recording same-sex couples for the first time.
Becker is part of a limited trail of the 2020 census taking place in Rhode Island, where residents can opt for “same-sex husband/wife/spouse” and “same-sex unmarried partner” to describe their relationship status.
The new options should provide one of the most comprehensive means of tracking same-sex relationships in the United States, particularly after the legalization of marriage equality nationwide in 2015.
However, while the historic nature of the new census is worth celebrating, it will not include questions related to sexual orientation or gender identity, leaving single gay, lesbian and bisexual people and transgender people, uncounted.
“You know, these are all labels,” Cecilia Chung, senior director of strategic projects for the Transgender Law Center, told NPR. “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.”
The Trump administration came under fire last year for erasing LGBTQ questions from both the annual American Community Survey and the decennial census.
Almost 100 lawmakers introduced legislation to try and force the government to recognize LGBTQ people in federal surveys, but the bill remains in limbo for the foreseeable future.