White House Looks to Include Same-Sex Unions in Census Count

h/t Lavender Newswire

Not my normal beat, but I'm in the mood for a bit of good news ...

First, check this out from Mercury News:

Census study of gay married couples finds similarities to husband-and-wife couples

Looking at the numbers above, it seems pretty obvious that gay and straight married couples share more in common than either group might care to admit.

Then, check this out from
The Wall Street Journal:

JUNE 19, 2009
White House Looks to Include Same-Sex Unions in Census Count


WASHINGTON -- The White House said Thursday it was seeking ways to include same-sex marriages, unions and partnerships in 2010 Census data, the second time in a week the administration has signaled a policy change of interest to the gay community.


The gay community strongly supported President Barack Obama during the 2008 election. But some gay activists say they have been frustrated by what they see as his slow approach to rolling back discriminatory policies.

White House spokesman Ben LaBolt said "the administration continues to make progress on the president's longstanding commitment to promoting equality for [lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender] Americans."


The Census Bureau has long collected data on same-sex marriages when people chose to report it. White House officials said the previous administration interpreted the federal Defense of Marriage Act as prohibiting the release of the data. The Obama administration has abandoned that interpretation.


An accurate statistical snapshot of legally married same-sex couples may be elusive. Before the White House's plan emerged, Howard Hogan, associate director for demographic programs at the Census Bureau, said data from its 2007 American Community Survey showed more than 340,000 same-sex couples as being in marriages. But according to data from Massachusetts, the only state that permitted gay marriages in 2007, about 11,000 marriage licenses were issued for same-sex couples.

The Obama administration was under pressure to change the Census policy. Rep. Mike Quigley (D., Ill.) sent a letter Tuesday to Mr. Obama, urging him to order the bureau to release same-sex marriage data as part of its standard tabulation of the 2010 Census.

Democratic Reps. Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, Steve Israel of New York and 51 other lawmakers wrote to White House Budget Director Peter Orszag last month, asking him to work with the bureau's parent agency, the Commerce Department, to reconsider the policy. Mr. Israel said the broad support for his letter shows that Congress has a real "appetite" for movement on this issue.

The original plan for handling these marriages in the 2010 Census was controversial among some statisticians and gay activists. Following procedures employed in 2000, the bureau had planned to use a computer program that recategorized spouses in same-sex marriages as unmarried partners. For the 1990 count, the bureau simply altered the gender designation of one partner.

Some members of the 2010 Census Advisory Committee, composed of private statisticians and members of nonprofit groups, said they think that the bureau has handled same-sex marriages irresponsibly. Ed Spar, a member of the committee and the executive director of the Council of Professional Associations on Federal Statistics, said altering data like the bureau has done with same-sex marriages "does not make any sense."

Read the full article here.

My comment:

Of course this is great news, but to the extent that a policy "doesn't make sense" (which this one obviously didn't), interest in seeing a better policy put in place is certainly not limited to the gay community.

Speaking as a straight American, life-long Democrat, and enthusiastic Obama supporter, I truly hope that this administration does not intend to waste a lot of its time congratulating itself in the press every single time similar policy corrections are made. I mean, this one was a no-brainer, right? So just fix it.

There'll be plenty of appreciation and admiration to go around once DADT and DOMA are gone.

In the meantime, please don't go framing every single positive policy change as a sop to concerned LGBT constituents. Such an approach is too divisive, time-consuming and transparently self-serving. Unfortunately, the way Obama is dragging his feet in this area, it's starting to look like maybe that's the plan, and that would be a real shame. Most of this stuff is about basic fairness and equality under the law and could get dealt with fairly expeditiously with the right leadership.

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    News and views on NOM, marriage equality and the Mormon church from a former LDS missionary. This site is not affiliated with The National Organization for Marriage or The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. © Copyright 2009 by Chino Blanco. All Rights Reserved.

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