The U.S. Census Bureau, because of the federal Defense of Marriage Act and other mandates, plans to edit the 2010 census responses of same-sex couples who marry legally in California, Massachusetts or any other state:
They will be reported as "unmarried partners," rather than married spouses, in census tabulations - a policy that will likely draw the ire of gay rights groups.When asked to describe their relationships to others in their household, if a respondent refers to a person of the same gender as their "husband/wife" on the 2010 census form, the Census Bureau will automatically assign them to the "unmarried partner" category. Legally married same-sex couples will be indistinguishable in census data from those who chose "unmarried partner" to describe their relationship.
The Census Bureau followed the same procedure for the 2000 census, and it does not plan to change in 2010 even though courts in Massachusetts and now California have ruled gay men and lesbians can marry lawfully.
Critics, such as Gary Gates of the Williams Institute, say the refusal to count legal same sex marriages will degrade the quality of the government's demographic data:
Gates, a prominent demographer who was consulted by Census Bureau officials about counting legally married same-sex couples, said one result is that the census will undercount marriages in states with gay marriage. And because the bureau defines a "family" as two or more people related by birth, adoption or marriage, it also will remove many same-sex married couples from being counted as families.The Census Bureau has no choice. The Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996. DOMA does not ban same-sex marriage. DOMA defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. The act also specifically denies federal benefits to same-sex couples. The act states that any federal law that applies to married couples does not apply to same-sex couples.