If you’re a gay or lesbian couple who consider yourselves spouses, the Census Bureau wants to count you that way, regardless of whether the state you live in permits same-sex marriage.
And it is urging transgender individuals to check off the sex they identify with, not necessarily the one they were born with.
That advice is part of a series of public-service videos released Monday by the U.S. Census Bureau, which is hoping to get a more accurate count of sexual minorities for the 2010 Census. Gay rights activists have also taken up the cause.
"What I tell folks in the bureau is that this is a powerful, important part of American society," Tim Olson, a Census Bureau assistant division chief helping to oversee the campaign, told the Associated Press.
"We have to reach out and engage this part of the population. Anything less than that is a failure," he said.
Just five states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa – and the District of Columbia have legalized gay marriage. But the Census says that the members of any couple in any state who consider themselves spouses are free to check the “husband” or “wife” box instead of the one saying “unmarried partner.”
From the Seattle Times:
“Advocates who have long sought a complete count of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community say this falls short but is still a partial breakthrough — one they say offers tacit acknowledgment of the very relationships the federal government legally denies.
"Even in the absence of federal recognition of our relationships, we have an opportunity to say on an official form that, 'Yes, we are married,' 'Yes, our relationships are every bit as equal to everyone else's,' " said Josh Friedes, executive director of Equal Rights Washington, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) advocacy group in Seattle.”
But the action is not without controversy. Conservative leaders see the effort as part of an ongoing effort to weaken or redefine marriage. From AP: