January 22, 2010 at 5:09 pm EDT | by Lou Chibbaro Jr.
Census Pride wants LGBT people counted

Carlene Cheatam (DC Agenda photo by Michael Key)

Leaders of the group D.C. Census Pride told a Jan. 14 meeting of local LGBT activists that the U.S. Census Bureau is making an unprecedented outreach effort to encourage LGBT people to answer and return the 2010 Census questionnaire.

Members of the group noted that for the first time, the Census Bureau will count same-sex married couples as it continues the practice it began with the 1990 Census to count unmarried same-sex couples.

“We want everyone counted, including single folks,” said D.C. lesbian activist Carlene Cheatam, who is among four co-chairs of D.C. Census Pride. The other co-chairs are Lisa Shaw, an LGBT outreach official with the Census Bureau; Darlene Nipper, deputy director of the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force; and Christopher Dyer, director of Mayor Adrian Fenty’s Office of GLBT Affairs.

The meeting was held in the new offices of the D.C. LGBT Community Center at 1810 14th St., N.W.

Cheatam and other leaders of D.C. Census Pride acknowledged that the 2010 Census questionnaire doesn’t include a question asking citizens to disclose their sexual orientation. Census Pride officials nevertheless said it’s important for all LGBT people, not just same-sex couples, to complete the Census questionnaire so that a true and accurate count of D.C.’s population can be made.

The Washington-based National Gay & Lesbian Task Force is urging LGBT people to place an “LGBT” sticker on the return envelope for the Census form in which people can disclose whether they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. The group is making the stickers available online at queerthecensus.org.

Lou Chibbaro Jr. has reported on the LGBT civil rights movement and the LGBT community for more than 30 years, beginning as a freelance writer and later as a staff reporter and currently as Senior News Reporter for the Washington Blade. He has chronicled LGBT-related developments as they have touched on a wide range of social, religious, and governmental institutions, including the White House, Congress, the U.S. Supreme Court, the military, local and national law enforcement agencies and the Catholic Church. Chibbaro has reported on LGBT issues and LGBT participation in local and national elections since 1976. He has covered the AIDS epidemic since it first surfaced in the early 1980s. Follow Lou

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