Every 10 years the U.S. Census Bureau, now metaphorically, comes knocking on our doors. But when the census surveys arrive in 2010 in married households of same-sex couples in Massachusetts, we will be reclassified as either unmarried or as same-sex partners if itâ€™s a childless household, and single-parent families if we have children.
But same-sex couples in Massachusetts will not alone in this battle to be counted; so, too, will California.
â€œTo completely whitewash us out of existence is hurtful, discriminatory and shameful,â€ said Molly McKay of Marriage Equality USA, a California-based group that advocates for same-sex marriage told the Associated Press â€œItâ€™s like the federal government is trying to say that we donâ€™t exist.â€
And believe it or not, the Census Bureau, unlike our present administration, says it doesnâ€™t care who youâ€™re sleeping with or your sexual orientation. It just wants to know your relationship to the head of the household.
But with the Bureauâ€™s intent on acquiring up-to-date information about every member of a given demographic group, LGBTQ households will not only be misrepresented but our households will also be made invisible when it comes to distributing proportionally the allocation of federal funds that help lawmakers make appropriate policy decisions.
â€œThis is such nonsense,â€ Arline Isaacson, co-chairwoman of the Massachusetts Gay and Lesbian Political Caucus, told the BostonGlobe. â€œTheir job [on the census] is not to count only those things that they wish existed and then refuse to count the rest. How can you make public policy when you donâ€™t have accurate information?â€
But Issacson is not alone in asking this question. So, too, did Senator John F. Kerry in an e-mailed statement he sent to the Globe.
â€œIf we donâ€™t have an inaccurate census, how can we sensibly provide federal, state and local resources? The census should be above political influence.â€
This â€œseparate and unequal treatmentâ€ of same-sex households is just another example of the 1,100 plus federal rights, privileges and protection denied us. And this denial is due to restrictions imposed by the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) that explicitly forbids federal government agencies to recognize same-sex marriages.
It really should be what you say you are, not what I perceive you to be,â€ Steven H. Murdock told the Associated Press. But, the agency director added, â€œWe have some limitations. This particular act limits us in regards to this issue.â€
DOMA has two main provisions: No state (or other political subdivision within the United States) need treat a relationship between persons of the same sex as a marriage, even if the relationship is considered a marriage in another state; The Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states.
In 1996 DOMA was passed into law. By 2006, 25 states adopted amendments to their state constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage, and another twenty stated enacted statutory DOMAs.
In the 2000 census same- sex marriage was not an issue because it did not begin in Massachusetts until May 17, 2004, and in California until May 15 of this year. And with the possibility of not a single one of our marriages showing up in the 2010 Census these households are not only discriminated against, but are also devalued as a vital component and contributor to American life.
â€œThis is simple discrimination plain and simple. If the census bureau said they werenâ€™t going to count black couples or Mexican couples it would be thrown out immediately and people would be brought to court,â€ stated a blogger on Mercury News.
Although Obama does not support same- sex marriage a statement on his campaign Web site on LGBTQ civil rights, Obama says we, the American people and perhaps not him, should â€œfully repeal the Defense of Marriage Act and enact legislation that would ensure that the 1,100+ federal legal rights and benefits currently provided on the basis of marital status are extended to same-sex couples.â€
McCain, on the other hand, is against repealing DOMA. And just last month McCain stated on ABC News that he â€œâ€¦voted for the Defense of Marriage Act, which clearly indicated the unique status of a marriage between man and woman. I will continue to support that, I will continue to have my position.â€
The 2000 Census estimated there were approximately 9,000 same-sex couples in Massachusetts. Today thereâ€™s an estimate of approximately 11, 000 same-sex marriages in Massachusetts, and the number is growing.
In a 4-to-3 decision, the California Supreme Court this May ruled that a â€œseparate and unequalâ€ system of domestic partnership for same-sex couples is blatantly discriminatory and unconstitutional. It stated in its ruling: â€œIn contrast to earlier times, our state now recognizes that an individualâ€™s capacity to establish a loving and long-term committed relationship with another person and responsibly to care for and raise children does not depend upon the individualâ€™s sexual orientation, and, more generally, that an individualâ€™s sexual orientationâ€”like a personâ€™s race or genderâ€”does not constitute a legitimate basis upon which to deny or withhold legal rights.â€
In other words, the times have changed, and the 2010 census should reflect this change by letting our households be counted.