October 12, 2012 | by Chris Johnson
New committee to advocate for LGBT-inclusion in U.S. Census

The U.S. Census Bureau announced on Friday it has established a new advisory committee to ensure its programs and surveys — including the once-a-decade census – accurately reflect LGBT and other minority populations within the country.

The National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic & Other Populations is comprised of 31 members and is set to advise the bureau on issues such the cost, accuracy and implementation of surveys. According to a news statement, these members are experts in topics ranging from housing, children, youth, poverty, privacy, race and ethnicity to LGBT populations.

Among the committee are experts on LGBT issues: Charlotte Patterson, a psychology professor at the University of Virginia who has researched child-rearing in LGBT households, and Shane Snowdon, head of the LGBT health and aging at the Human Rights Campaign.

Fred Sainz, HRC’s vice president of communications, said Snowdon be an excellent addition to the committee and strongly advocate for the LGBT community.

“Shane Snowdon’s experience with data collection and engaging the LGBT community will make her a valuable asset to the Census Bureau,” Sainz said. “We are proud that she will be serving on this committee and ensuring that our families are counted.”

Patterson said via email she believes she was appointed because of her LGBT work and the first meeting for the panel has already been scheduled for Oct. 25 and 26 in Suitland, Md.

“The National Advisory Committee is itself new, with the first meeting scheduled for later this month,” Patterson said. “So, I am sure that I will know more after I have attended a meeting of the group.”

The year 2010 was significant for the once-a-decade census because, for the first time, the U.S. Census counted as families same-sex couples who identified as “husband or wife” or “unmarried partner.” The Bush administration said it couldn’t count these couples because of the Defense of Marriage Act, but the Obama administration reversed that policy under the request of LGBT advocates. According to the Williams Institute, the Census found 646,464 same-sex couples, and 131,729 identified of them identified as married.

Thomas Mesenbourg, the Census Bureau’s acting director, said in a statement the committee will “help us meet emerging challenges the Census Bureau faces in producing statistics about our diverse nation.”

“By helping us better understand a variety of issues that affect statistical measurement, this committee will help ensure that the Census Bureau continues to provide relevant and timely statistics used by federal, state and local governments as well as business and industry in an increasingly technologically oriented society,” Mesenbourg said.

UPDATE: This article has modified to include information about the upcoming meeting for the National Advisory Committee on Racial, Ethnic & Other Populations.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

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