Last year, the Obama administration cleared the way for same-gender couples to be counted in the 2010 U.S. Census by lifting a Bush-era policy counting them as singles. This year marks the first time in our nation’s history that gay couples are to be officially reported. The next Census isn’t until 2020, so it is extremely important that all LGBT couples in the U.S. remember to seize this opportunity when Census packets go out in March.
If the federal government knows how many of us are actually out there, it could help move along legislation to repeal anti-gay laws like the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) and shape the future of important matters such as social security benefits and health care for gay couples. The states and municipalities would also be compelled to take notice of their respective LGBT populations, which could lead to advances in gay rights at local levels.
Change.org has provided a very useful guide to accurately filling out the Census forms to assure your same-gender relationship is counted:
What Box Do You Check?
If you are in a relationship and you live together, you have two choices. First, one of you will be designated as “Person 1.” If there is no clear favorite for who should be the head of household, perhaps you could flip a coin, wrestle for it or hold a lip-synching competition. Whoever doesn’t win will be designated as “Person 2.” This person is asked how they are related to Person 1. There are 16 choices, but the two that concern you are “husband or wife” and “unmarried partner.”
This is the important part: You do not answer based on the actual legal status of your relationship, you answer based on how you personally categorize your relationship. If you are legally married, you will probably mark down “husband or wife,” though if you are in a civil union or domestic partnership, yet you still feel married, than you should also mark “husband or wife.” If there is no legal recognition of your relationship where you live, but you still consider yourself married, it’s also important that you mark “husband or wife.”
If this box doesn’t accurately represent your relationship, you have the option of the “unmarried partner” box. If this sounds like a vague catch-all, that’s because it is. The Guide to the American Community Survey says “An ‘Unmarried partner,’ also known as a domestic partner, is a person who shares a close personal relationship with Person 1.” If this better describes your relationship, than please mark the “unmarried partner” box.
The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force has started a movement called Queer the Census, which supplies pink stickers to use to seal the Census envelope when you send it back. Gay couples can get one sticker for free by going here. Five additional stickers are $1 each or you can buy 50 for $25 to share with friends. There is also a petition you can sign.
But you DO NOT have to use the stickers to be recognized. They are an optional “statement” to Census workers that a gay couple exists and demands to be counted, or that the person filling out the form is a straight ally of gay unions.
Don’t remain invisible! Make sure to follow this guide and send in your Census forms with all the right boxes checked. Do it for your relationship, your family, and your country.
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