by Kristina Gupta, Policy Fellow
National Women’s Law Center
The NWLC relies on data from the U.S. Census Bureau for a lot of our research on topics like child care, women’s poverty and women’s health insurance coverage.
Yet, Census data systematically misrepresents the familial relationships of lesbian women and gay men. In the 2000 Census, same-sex couples who reported that they were married were re-classified as unmarried, same-sex partners, and same-sex couples who reported they were married but did not have children were not counted as families. This may have made some sense in 2000, when same-sex marriage was not legal in any state.
Things have changed, however, since 2000 – same-sex marriage has been legalized in Massachusetts and California. But, as reported by the New York Times on Friday, for the 2010 Census, even legally married same-sex couples in CA and MA will continue to be reclassified as unmarried, same-sex partners, and, once again, legally married same-sex couples without children will not be counted as families, even though married opposite-sex couples without children are counted as families.
Plain and simple – this is the U.S. Census Bureau reclassifying out of existence the legally recognized familial relationships of lesbian women and gay men. According to the Census Bureau, the federal Defense of Marriage Act bars the agency from recognizing same-sex marriage. In sum, homophobia, enshrined in federal law, has triumphed over the need for accurate data reporting, and has compromised our ability to develop a true picture of the lives of American women, straight and gay.