Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Making It Count

Magazine article The Advocate (The national gay & lesbian newsmagazine)

Making It Count

Article excerpt

Census 2000 is expected to yield a much broader picture of gay and lesbian America

Uncle Sam is doing gay men and lesbians a huge favor this month. Thanks to a method of counting domestic partners on the 2000 census, advocates say they will soon get unprecedented insight into the behavior, geography, and lifestyle of hundreds of thousands of same-sex couples.

The decennial survey, which Americans were supposed to fill out and return by mid April, doesn't ask about sexual orientation, but it does allow couples to identify as unmarried partners. That category, meant to count unmarried heterosexual couples, also can be used to enumerate gay and lesbian couples.

According to census demographer Jason Fields, the government has no use for this data as it pertains to gay men and lesbians. But its value can't be overstated to those who are politically or economically interested in the gay world. Activists expect an exponential rise in the number of couples who are counted as unmarried partners (there were about 145,000 in 1990), largely because thousands of people have come out of the closet since then. Also making the 2000 figure more complete: Even those who defiantly check the "husband-wife" box (or the "now married" box on the long form) will be counted as unmarried partners. …

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