2010-01-03 07:32:00 UTC
The LGBT community has a very important opportunity to stand up and be counted in 2010, and it is imperative that this occasion not be wasted. In March, Census packets will be mailed to everyone in the country, and it is vital that you are armed with the information you need to report yourself accurately.
Since 1990, gay and lesbian couples have been provided an unintentional outlet to categorize their relationship, by self-identifying as married or unmarried partners. Even though the results aren’t officially reported, the raw numbers reveal that 145,000 same-sex couples identified as married or “unmarried partners” in 1990 (before any legal recognition in the U.S. even existed) and close to 600,000 same-sex couples self-reported in 2000. The Obama administration has reversed a Bush-era policy, so in the 2010 Census, a report will be released that outlines official information about same-sex couples. Here are some quick instructions on how to make sure your family is reported correctly.
What Box Do You Check?
If you are in a relationship and you live together, you have two choices. First, one of you will be designated as “Person 1.” If there is no clear favorite for who should be the head of household, perhaps you could flip a coin, wrestle for it or hold a lip-synching competition. Whoever doesn’t win will be designated as “Person 2.” This person is asked how they are related to Person 1. There are 16 choices, but the two that concern you are “husband or wife” and “unmarried partner.”
This is the important part: You do not answer based on the actual legal status of your relationship, you answer based on how you personally categorize your relationship. If you are legally married, you will probably mark down “husband or wife,” though if you are in a civil union or domestic partnership, yet you still feel married, than you should also mark “husband or wife.” If there is no legal recognition of your relationship where you live, but you still consider yourself married, it’s also important that you mark “husband or wife.”
If this box doesn’t accurately represent your relationship, you have the option of the “unmarried partner” box. If this sounds like a vague catch-all, that’s because it is. The Guide to the American Community Survey says “An ‘Unmarried partner,’ also known as a domestic partner, is a person who shares a close personal relationship with Person 1.” If this better describes your relationship, than please mark the “unmarried partner” box.
If you are not in a relationship, unfortunately there is no way for you to officially come out to the U.S. Government on this Census, but there are still some important steps that you need to take if we are going to change this in the future.
The campaign to get a question on the 2020 Census that asks about sexual orientation and gender identity is well underway. There are two simple actions you can take right now to help make this happen:
1. Queer the Census, a project of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force, is supplying pink stickers to the gay community that you will use to seal your Census envelope when you send it back. The stickers say “Attn: U.S. Census Bureau, It’s Time to Count Everyone!” and they provide a check box for you to mark if you are LGBT or a straight ally. It is vital that you go to the site and order your sticker and tell all your friends to do the same. Avoid the rush by ordering your sticker today and ensuring its arrival before Census time.
2. Sign the Change.org petition that urges U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to make sure that LGBT people are properly counted in the 2020 Census.
(Image Courtesy of Queer the Census)