May 26, 2009
Ed. note: Ché Ruddell-Tabisola, HRC's Field Special Projects Manager, brings us this first in a series of posts about the upcoming U.S. Census. In a mere 309 days tens of thousands of same-sex couples will have the opportunity to do something historic. For the first time they will be able to identify as lawfully wedded spouses in a U.S. Census. But there's something else historic that could happen on Census Day, April 1, 2010. The Census Bureau has said they will change the responses of married lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender couples to "unmarried partners" in Census reports. Modifying any Census data after it is collected not only calls into question the reliability of the information the Census reports, it also disrespects the marriages of loving, committed and legally married same-sex couples. What's HRC doing to change this? A lot. The issue Citing the federal Defense of Marriage Act, Census officials plan to change the responses of same-sex couples who report themselves as married as, instead, "unmarried partners" in Census reports. Why it matters Changing anyone's answers in the Census not only results in inaccurate information, it denigrate the relationships of tens of thousands of married gay and lesbian couples in our nation. The Census is critical in understanding our nation and directing our public policy. It must be transparent and not politicized, and it must make every effort to reflect who the American people truly are. What HRC is doing The Human Rights Campaign shares the Obama Administration's goal that the 2010 Census be the most complete and accurate count in American history. HRC along with other organizations are working hard to educate Department of Commerce and Census Bureau officials to the problems with changing the data of married same-sex couples and advocating for everyone's marriages to be treated with the same dignity and respect. Stay tuned to learn what you can to do help the effort. And check back with www.hrc.org and www.hrcbackstory.org for updates.