Via press release:
Today, U.S. Senators Kamala D. Harris (D-CA) and Tom Carper (D-DE), both members of the Senate Homeland and Governmental Affairs Committee, introduced the Census Equality Act, legislation to require the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure the approximately 10 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ are properly counted for and represented in Census data collection efforts. The Census Equality Act requires the Census Bureau to begin the process of adding questions related to sexual orientation and gender identity to the decennial census and American Community Survey (ACS).
LGTBQ communities face many challenges related to this undercounting, chief among them underrepresentation, lack of resources, and discrimination. Despite the fact that millions of Americans identify as LGBTQ, only an estimated .1% of elected officials are LGBTQ. LGBTQ undercounting in the Decennial Census and the ACS result in an inadequate distribution of resources and social services including Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers, and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).
“The spirit of the census is that no one should go uncounted and no one should be invisible,” said Senator Harris. “We must expand data collections efforts to ensure the LGBTQ community is not only seen, but fully accounted for in terms of government resources provided. This information can also provide us with better tools to enforce civil rights protections for a community that is too often discriminated against.”
If the Census Equality Act becomes a law, sexual orientation and gender identity questions would have to be added to forms for the census by 2030 and for the American Community Survey — a survey that about one in 38 households are required by federal law to complete every year — by 2020.
Forms for both the American Community Survey and the census — which the Constitution requires every person living in the U.S. to take part in — have long allowed people to select “male” or “female” as their sex.
In March, the U.S. Census Bureau announced that the 2020 census questionnaires will include new relationship categories differentiating between “same-sex” and “opposite-sex” couples. That change, some demographers say, could produce the most comprehensive national data yet on same-sex couples.
The bill is backed by the ACLU, the HRC, People for the American Way, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and dozens of other civil rights groups.