WASHINGTON (BP)–The Census Bureau is actively encouraging homosexual couples to declare themselves as “married” on census forms even if they do not have a marriage license, and critics say the move not only violates federal law but also encourages lying and will result in an inflated number.
It has been known for months that the Census Bureau was going to, for the first time, count same-sex couples in the 2010 Census, but only in recent days has the Census Bureau begun encouraging such participation through TV commercials airing on the homosexual-themed Logo channel, as well as through social media videos.
Only five states and the District of Columbia recognize “gay marriage.” Yet homosexual couples in the other 45 states — even those states that have passed constitutional amendments explicitly defining marriage in the traditional sense — are encouraged by the Census Bureau to identify as being “married” on the census if that’s how they view their relationship.
The Census Bureau has posted an eight-page “fact sheet” on its website answering common questions from the homosexual community.
“Census data are based on how individuals self identify and how couples think of themselves,” the document says. “Same-sex couples who are married, or consider themselves to be spouses, can identify one other adult as a ‘husband or wife.'”
It is a first for the census. Under the Bush administration, same-sex couples who indicated on the 2000 Census they were “married” were re-categorized by the bureau as “unmarried partners.” Attorneys for the Bush administration believed releasing data on “married” same-sex couples would have violated the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, a law which says “in determining the meaning” of “any ruling, regulation, or interpretation” of a federal bureau, marriage means only the legal union of a man and woman. The Obama administration reversed the Bush policy last year.
The Census Bureau has released multiple YouTube-type videos targeting the homosexual community featuring male couples and female couples. Most of them have a similar message: If you consider yourself married, then indicate as such on the census form.
“What kind of government actively lobbies citizens to lie on their forms?” Family Research Council President Tony Perkins asked in a press release, arguing the Census Bureau was violating the 1996 law. “… Homosexuals should fill out the census form and be counted, the same as any other Americans. But only Congress — not homosexual activists, not the Census Bureau, and not President Obama and his appointees acting unilaterally — can change federal law.”
Mathew Staver, chairman of the legal organization Liberty Counsel, said the Census is violating both the spirit and letter of the law.
“The federal law says no government agency can recognize marriage other than the definition of one man and one woman,” Staver told Baptist Press. “So, if for federal purposes marriage is only a man and a woman, you can’t count anything other than that, because it doesn’t exist under federal law. Irrespective of what states are doing, there’s a federal law that says marriage is between one man and one woman, and every federal agency must follow that definition.”
The Census Bureau fact sheet even addresses transgender individuals, saying “transgender respondents should select the sex with which they identify.”
The Census Bureau has defended its approach to same-sex couples, saying it does not ask heterosexual couples to show their marriage licenses, either. But conservatives say the issue of “gay marriage” is far different because it is illegal in the overwhelming majority of states.
The Census’ YouTube videos feature various homosexual leaders, including Harry Knox of the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest homosexual organization. Knox urges homosexuals to participate in the census.
“Same-sex partners, and for the first time same-sex married couples, will be counted,” Knox said. “This includes couples who may live where their relationship is not recognized. Transgender respondents are counted in the gender with which they identify.”
One of the videos features a lesbian couple, Lorie and Jane Birch, who are volunteers with the Human Rights Campaign. One of them calls the census “the greatest way to really find out … who is in the community and [to] be counted so that we can have more political power.”
Jaime Grant, director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force’s Policy Institute, told the Associated Press the significance of the Census to count same-sex couples is “humongous.”
“Our opponents are rightfully concerned, because it does lend an air of legitimacy to our marriages,” Grant said. “It’s another way of weaving us into the fabric instead of continuing to see as outsiders.”
Staver, though, said the data will simply “cloud the issue” because many, if not most, of the couples won’t be legally “married.” There will be no way to fact-check the data.
“They are self-identified married couples,” Staver said. “… It will inflate the numbers, and that’s exactly what the homosexual agenda advocates will want to do to try and make their population look bigger than it is.”
Michael Foust is an assistant editor of Baptist Press. The Census Bureau LGBT fact sheet is available at http://2010.census.gov/partners/pdf/factSheet_General_LGBT.pdf.