About the Form
For Same-Sex Couples:
- If you consider yourselves spouses or married, have Person 2 mark “Husband or wife”.
- If you are married, have Person 2 mark “Husband or wife” — even if your home state doesn’t recognize your marriage.
- If you consider yourselves partners, but not spouses or married, have Person 2 mark “Unmarried partner”.
For Transgender People:
- Check the box (Male or Female) that best reflects your gender.
Is there a sexual orientation or gender identity question on the 2010 Census?
No, and for two reasons: First, it takes years to successfully advocate for the inclusion of questions on the census, and the advocacy must be funded by congressional legislation. We are just emerging from the hostile and indifferent years of the previous administration, when this advocacy was largely ignored.
Second, there are only five basic topics on the 2010 census. They cover broad, general questions that give overarching demographic information about individuals in every single household in the U.S. They pertain to:
Tenure (length of time you rent/own your home)
No Americans will be asked their sexual orientation, so LGBT people cannot make their sexual orientation or gender identity visible on the census form. However, those of us who are living with a spouse or partner can indicate that relationship by checking either the “husband/wife” or “unmarried partner” box.
If I am transgender, do I check the sex I was assigned at birth or my gender identity/expression? What if neither of these options fit my identity?
The census asks each of us to tell the truth as we understand it. Check the box on the census form that most closely reflects your current gender identity. The census only provides male and female options to check, so you must choose one of these boxes.
How will LGBT same-sex married spouses and unmarried partners be counted by the census?
Fortunately, responding to persistent advocacy by demographers and community leaders including the Williams Institute (UCLA School of Law), National Gay and Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign, the U.S. Census Bureau has reversed an earlier decision and officially announced it will release counts of spouses as well as same-sex unmarried partners.
The Census form asks you to list the person who owns or rents the house as “Person 1” and then indicate how everyone in the household is related to “Person 1”. In order to be counted as a same-sex couple, one of the partners must be listed as “Person 1”. Same-sex couples who have been legally married or consider themselves to be spouses should identify the other person as a “husband or wife”. Those terms fit some – but certainly not all – LGBT households.
Other same-sex couples may be more comfortable using the term “unmarried partner”. In general, this term is designed to capture couples who are in a “close personal relationship” and are not legally married or do not think of themselves as spouses. Census forms do not provide an option yet to explicitly designate a couple as united by civil union or a public domestic partner registry.
How will the children of same-sex couples be counted by the census?
Census categories for many household relationships do not always or easily fit every family. This can be especially true for LGBT families with children. Given the specific options allowed by the Census form, when describing household relationships (to Person 1) especially when referring to children, respondents should select the option that they believe most accurately reflects their family.
Why should LGBT people of color in bi-racial relationships consider identifying as head of household?
Census reports some statistics based on the race/ethnicity of the “household”. In these cases, they categorize households by the race/ethnicity of Person 1 (head of household). Given that people of color are often under counted, LGBT people of color in bi-racial relationships should consider identifying as the head of household.
How do I know that the government won’t use this information to target me or my family for discrimination?
The census does and must ensure absolute confidentiality of these records in order to carry out its monumental task every 10 years. There is no record of any LGBT individual or family being persecuted over the past 20 years for taking part in the census or for responding truthfully to any questions asked.
Analyses of Census 2000 data tell us that there are more than one million lesbian and gay veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed forces.
Williams Distinguished Scholar
The Williams Institute, UCLA School of Law
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