Census to Count Marriages Equally

If you're a woman living with a wife, you will now be counted appropriately.

By Jackson West
|  Wednesday, Oct 21, 2009  |  Updated 2:00 PM PDT
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Census to Count Marriages Equally

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The census might help change attitudes when people realize that there are plenty of their neighbors who considered themselves both gay and married.

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In the 2000 census, if you were a man who said you were living with your husband, the software automatically changed your status to living with an "unmarried partner."

This time around, census takers won't make that mistake -- meaning by 2011 we should have fairly accurate data about the number of gay and lesbian couples who identify as "married" across the country.

About 18,000 same-sex couples were married in California last year before Prop 8 banned gay marriages. But even if you aren't legally married, you can at least report your romance as a marriage. "We want people to view themselves as they see themselves," census official David Lloyd told the San Mateo County Times.

In 2000, the census took steps to make sure same-sex couples wouldn't be recognized as married because of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act which prohibits the federal government from recognizing such unions.

But lawyers for the current administration feel that the census simply reports information, and therefore isn't an official recognition as such.

What's still missing from the census? Any questions about sexuality and gender identity, so there's still plenty of room for improvement.

Jackson West can't wait to fill out his census form, because he is a nerd.

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