A US Census Bureau spokesperson reportedly told reporters this past week that his organization intends to count officially the number of same-sex married couples for the 2010 census.
Steve Jost of the Bureau told reporters Friday, June 19th, ‘They will be counted,’ he said, ‘and they ought to report the way they see themselves. In the normal process of reports coming out after the census of 2010, I think the country will have a good data set on which to discuss this phenomenon that is evolving in this country.’
Last year, the Bureau refused to count same-sex married couples despite the fact that two states expanded legal recognition of the institution. Census Bureau officials, under the Bush administration, rationalized the decision to do so by citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), which bans and refuses to recognize same-sex marriage under federal law.
‘The president and the administration are committed to a fair and accurate count of all Americans,’ White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. ‘We’re in the midst of determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are accurately counted.’
The change in this decision came this year under the Obama administration after LGBT civil rights groups began to build public pressure for having these marriages counted in the Census.
In an e-mail message to supporters this weekend, the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force claimed victory on this issue. ‘This is a huge win for the LGBT community and our allies,’ the e-mail said. ‘Thousands of you stood up and refused to allow same-sex marriages, our families and our children to be rendered invisible.’ According to the NGLTF, tens of thousands of supporters signed an Internet petition in support of an accurate count of same-sex marriages.
Experts believe that as many as 35,000 same-sex couples have been legally married, while an unknown number of LGBT Americans identify themselves as married without a legal recognition.
The victory on the Census issue came just days after the President announced an expansion of federal benefits to same-sex partners of many federal employees, expressed his support for legislation that would allow all federal employees to provide employee benefits for same-sex partners and re-stated his commitment to repealing DOMA.