The D.C.-based National LGBTQ Task Force has announced it will celebrate Census Day on April 1 by “mobilizing LGBTQ people across the country to get counted in the 2020 Census.”
The Task Force is part of a coalition of national civil rights and progressive advocacy groups that launched the “Queer the Census” campaign last year to encourage members of marginalized communities to make sure they are counted in this year’s Census.
“Starting today, the National LGBTQ Task Force will host a series of educational webinars, host office hours online where people can find answers to their questions, and work with volunteers to make thousands of phone calls to LGBTQ people to make sure they know how to fill out the Census,” the group said in a March 27 statement.
“The Census helps LGBTQ communities access billions in federal funding for social programs, helps us build political power and helps us enforce civil rights protections,” Meghan Maury, the Task Force’s policy director, said in the statement.
In a development that some LGBTQ activists view as a positive change, the 2020 Census questionnaire explicitly asks couples living together to define their relationship to their partners in a new way — as “same-sex” or “opposite sex” spouses or partners.
The 2000 and 2010 Census counted same-sex couples indirectly through questions about gender and relationships. But the newly worded question in 2020 is expected to provide a more accurate count of the number of same-sex couples in the United States.
To the disappointment of LGBTQ advocacy organizations, Census officials under the Trump administration declined to include in the 2020 questionnaire questions asking about a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity so that non-coupled LGBTQ people could be counted.
“While the Census doesn’t ask questions about sexual orientation or gender identity, it’s still vital for us to be counted,” Maury said in the Task Force statement. “Like other marginalized communities, LGBTQ people have historically been undercounted on the Census,” Maury said. “The ‘Queer the Census’ campaign is working to change that, so that our community can access the things it needs most — dollars, democracy and justice.”
Nick Morrow, a spokesperson for the national LGBTQ advocacy organization Human Rights Campaign, said HRC shares the Task Force’s view on the importance of the Census for LGBTQ people.
“It’s vitally important for all of us to be counted in the Census,” he said. “Critical funding for programs that support our communities, and LGBTQ people specifically, are determined by the Census.”
The 2020 Census question that asks about same-sex couples is part of a larger question that asks about the relationship between two adults living together in a residence and who are referred to in the question as Person 1 and Person 2.
In referring to Person 2, the question asks, “How is this person related to Person 1?” It then prompts the person answering the questionnaire to mark “one box” next to a list of possible responses:
“Opposite-sex husband/wife/spouse; opposite-sex unmarried partner; same-sex husband/wife/spouse; same-sex unmarried partner; biological son or daughter; adopted son or daughter; stepson or stepdaughter; brother or sister; father or mother; grandchild; parent-in-law; son-in-law or daughter-in-law; other relative; roommate or housemate; foster child; other nonrelative.”
For the 2020 Census the U.S. Census Bureau has or is in the process of mailing a letter to all U.S. households informing the resident or residents that they are required under U.S. law to complete a Census questionnaire. The letter urges residents to complete the questionnaire online at my2020census.gov. If the household is unable to complete the questionnaire online the letter says a printed version of the questionnaire would be mailed to the household and the resident asked to return it in the mail.
If the resident doesn’t respond, the letter says, “We will need to send a Census Bureau interviewer to your home to collect your answers in person.”
The Task Force says details of its events and activities related to its campaign to promote LGBTQ participation in the Census can be obtained at www.queerthecensus.org.