2020 Census to identify same-sex couples
It looks like counting the LGBTQ community is back on track for the 2020 Census despite earlier fears that the Trump Administration would remove the LGBTQ from the census.
This was the declaration made by the US Census Bureau in its report to Congress, i.e. that the 2020 census will ask couples living together to define their relationship to their partners as “same-sex” or “opposite-sex.”
2020 Census: The wrong headcount
In the questionnaires that would be sent to all US households, the 2020 Census would introduce differentiation between same-sex and opposite-sex couples to improve the bureau’s data on same-sex couples.
The US census, conducted every decade, first began to collect data on same-sex couples in 1990 via the “unmarried partner” category in the relationship question.
Likewise, the bureau counted same-sex couples during the 2000 and 2010 census data count via responses to questions on sex and relationship.
However, some opposite-sex couples made errors in marking their sex, affecting initial estimates of same-sex couples.
“Even if only a few different-sex couples make an error where they appear to be same-sex couples, it’s a large enough problem that it, for lack of a better word, contaminates the same-gender couples’ sample,” said Gary Gates, former research director of the Williams Institute at the UCLA School of Law.
2020 Census: Informing public policy
Through the use of “same-sex” and “opposite-sex terms on the census form, the bureau hopes to improve their estimates of how many same-sex couples are living in the uS.
This, in turn, could help government in forming public policy affecting LGBTQ couples, which LGBT advocates say is a symbolic victory.
But the census is still not including questions about sexual orientation or gender identity. Cecilia Chung, senior director of strategic projects for Transgender Law Center, expressed hopes that this would happen in the future.
“You know, these are all labels,” says Chung, who is a transgender woman. “But if we don’t have the proper labels when we try to look at the picture, there will be a lot of missing pieces, like jigsaw puzzles.”
The census is required by the US Constitution, as noted in Article 1, with a population count being done every 10 years. The first census was done in 1790.
Issues with the 2020 Census
The data collected in the census will be used in a number of ways, like reapportioning of seats in the House of Representatives as well as calculating the distribution of federal funds to state and local governments.
Furthermore, the bureau cannot by law can’t share the answers given by individuals to the CIA, FBI, IRS, or any other government agency.
However, there are issues with regard to the questions in the census: for the first time since 1950, it will be asking whether they are citizens.
To address the possibility that some immigrants would refuse to answer the question, the Trump administration wants to use other government records to fill in the missing responses.
That’s why the inclusion of the new question has been challenged in court by California Attorney General Xavier Becerra because the information might be used by law enforcement or immigration agencies.