The United States Census Bureau revealed in a congressional report that the 2020 U.S. Census will ask couples if they identify as “same-sex” or “opposite-sex.”
This will be the first distinction of same-sex couples in U.S. census history.
“It really normalizes our experience on an American government form so that everybody looking at it and everybody filling it out sees that we exist,” lesbian married woman Wendy Becker told NPR. Becker is a part of the 2020 census practice run in Rhode Island’s Providence County.
The run’s new relationship categories include “same-sex husband/wife/spouse” and “same-sex unmarried partner.”
But not all LGBT people will be represented in the new census — it currently leaves out bisexual people, transgender people, and any single LGBT people.
“It’s a good thing that we are now going to improve the way in which we ask people about their relationships, and whether they’re married, and to whom they’re married,” LGBT Researcher and Vice President of the LGBT Research and Communications Project at the Center for American Progress Laura Durso told The Daily Beast. “And then, of course, that comes with real disappointment that we are still lacking questions about sexual orientation and gender identity that would let us see the full spectrum of the LGBT community.”
The 2020 census is the 24th in history. It’s used to reapportion seats in the House of Representatives and calculate distribution billions in federal funds to local governments.
Senior Director of Strategic Projects for the Transgender Law Center told NPR she hopes gender identity and sexual orientation will be added to the census.
"You know, these are all labels," she said. "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."