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2020 census will include questions about same-sex marriage for the first time

POSTED April 13, 2018 9:29 a.m.
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The 2020 U.S. Census will ask about same-sex marriage for the first time ever, according to a news release from the Pew Research Center.

The U.S. Census Bureau will specifically ask same-sex couples to check off certain boxes to identify themselves.

Right now, the bureau asks respondents about their gender and how each person in their household is related to each other. The question includes options to label someone as “husband or wife,” “unmarried partner” and a dozen others.

For example, if a man said that another man in his house was his “husband or wife,” then the two would be identified by the agency as a same-sex couple.

However, in 2020, the census will include separate categories for “opposite-sex” and “same-sex couples," allowing same-sex couples to answer those questions independently from opposite-sex couples.

The census bureau added the question “to fix a long-standing problem of Census Bureau overcounts of these couples,” according to Pew.

The move is to help the bureau fix the problem of misreporting on same-sex couples after research found many of the census respondents who identified as same-sex couples were listed as opposite-sex couples in Social Security files.

“There is growing demand for good data about same-sex couples. Same-sex marriage is not tracked consistently by all states, and some couples marry abroad,” according to the Pew Research Center. “More broadly, the rise in same-sex partnerships has fueled demand for more data on these couples. Among the uses for the data are to study the well-being of children in different types of living arrangements and to forecast demand for benefits based on marital status.”

The U.S. Census Bureau first sent its questions in March for approval from Congress.

However, 17 states and six cities announced in April that they would sue to stop the Trump administration from adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census, according to NBC News.

The lawsuit alleges that the question would go against the Constitution, which asks “the government fairly and accurately count all people in the country,” NBC reported.

"This is really just an effort to punish places like New York that welcome immigrants, that are accommodating to immigrants and embrace the American tradition of open arms for all," New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman told NBC News. "We stand to lose money because this determines congressional representation and the Electoral College. This is an affront to our national ideals and this is an affront to the constitution."

Officials from the U.S. Census Bureau will meet with lawmakers on Capitol Hill in May to discuss the controversial question, according to NPR.

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