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Task Force describes work that leads to U.S. Census recognizing same-sex married couples

News release from the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force:

National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, a leader in effort to get U.S. Census Bureau to report married same-sex couples, on hand as Commerce Department makes it official

Task Force staffers met with officials from the White House, Census Bureau and Commerce Department to successfully press for this policy reversal

WASHINGTON, July 31 — The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force was on hand for today’s official announcement by the U.S. Commerce Department that the U.S. Census Bureau would report married same-sex couples in the 2010 census. The Task Force played a key role in getting the U.S. Census Bureau to report the number of married same-sex couples, which has never been done before and reverses an earlier decision made under the Bush administration. The Task Force pressed for a reversal of the discriminatory policy in meetings that started in late 2008 with the Obama transition team, continuing later with officials from the White House, Census Bureau and Commerce Department. While the policy reversal decision was made public in late June, today marked the official announcement of that change.

Statement by Rea Carey, Executive Director
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force

“This is a tremendous victory for our community, which stood up and refused to allow same-sex marriages, our families and children to be rendered invisible in the picture of our country provided through the census. Finally, and fairly, married same-sex couples will be accurately reported by the U.S. Census Bureau. This is an important step forward, and one we hope signals the federal government’s burgeoning commitment to including lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in data and reporting on a broad spectrum of critical matters, such as those related to our community’s health, economic issues, safety and life circumstances.
“We would also like to thank Gary Gates and the Williams Institute for partnering with us to educate the administration on this critical issue of visibility for our community.”

The Task Force’s work leading to this victory

The Task Force worked for months to secure a reversal of the discriminatory policy. This included:

  • Task Force staff met with Obama transition team members to educate them about this critical issue, and to provide concrete ways for them to make this change.
  • Task Force staffers, including Executive Director Rea Carey and Policy Institute Director Jaime Grant, pressed for a policy change in meetings that started in late 2008 with the Obama transition team, continuing later with officials from the White House, Census Bureau and Commerce Department.
  • In February, the Task Force Policy Institute convened 20 leading lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights organizations to meet with top census outreach officials. In this meeting, the groups collectively refused to engage in community outreach on the census until the anti-marriage policy was reversed.
  • The Task Force partnered with the Williams Institute to provide officials from the White House, Census Bureau and Commerce Department with research essential to making this change.
  • The Task Force undertook a major grassroots campaign to both educate the public on this issue and to apply pressure to the administration.
  • The Task Force worked with key elected officials to provide them with information so they could write letters to Commerce Secretary Gary Locke and the incoming director of the Census Bureau to advocate for change.
  • The Task Force is part of a coalition of researchers and advocates crafting a community education campaign to launch following the change of policy.

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