Thursday, July 17, 2008

Census Won't Count Same-Sex Marriages

As information professionals, we have to lament a decision by the Census Bureau, as reported in the Washington Post, to deliberately misreport same-sex marriages in the 2010 census. According to the article, same-sex couples in Massachusetts and California who are legally married and who report themselves as married will have their answers changed to "unmarried" and their children will be considered children of single parents.

Whatever your views on same-sex marriage, statistics are a critical resource, both now and in the future. Accurate numbers can only enhance a conversation on a topic, and can aid historians and other researchers in understanding a given era. Surely, the Census Bureau could find a way to report accurate statistics on the number of married same-sex couples, while still fulfilling their legal obligations under federal laws which do not acknowledge such marriages. Perhaps a separate category on the census form could address both concerns.