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Friday, February 19, 2010

Mayor Francis Slay Urges LGBT Couples to Come Out and Be Counted in 2010 Census

Posted By on Fri, Feb 19, 2010 at 10:40 AM

The United States census form does not always keep up with the times. On this year's form, for instance, people still have the option to identify themselves as "Negro," a term that all but disappeared in the late 1960s. The Census Bureau defended its decision by claiming that many elderly people continue to identify themselves as "Negro" rather than "black" or "African American."

The mayor's office has recently fielded questions from same-sex couples about whether they should identify themselves as "married," even though gay marriage is still illegal in Missouri.

In a statement released on Tuesday, Mayor Slay gave his answer: "That depends."

In short, if you are legally married, in any state, yes. If you are just shacking up, you should check "unmarried partner." Either way, he said, it's important that LGBT couples be recognized.

Mayor Slay has long been a supporter of LGBT rights. He has expanded the city's Domestic Partnership Registry and has frequently stated that he is in favor of civil unions for same-sex couples.

The mayor's full statement after the jump:

If you have legally married your same-sex spouse in any state, you may choose to check the "husband or wife" option, and the Census will record and report on these figures in its official Census tables on married couples in the U.S. Not every legally married same-sex couple will want to do so, since the term "husband or wife" is imprecise....As annoyed as the "husband or wife" phrase may make you, I agree with those in the community who say that choosing that option may be an important first step in changing the way the country understands LGBT partnership. If you are legally married, why miss out on being counted that way?

Some same-sex couples may check the "unmarried partner" box on the form. That, too, is also an important thing to do. Last year, the American Community Survey reported a significant decline in same sex couples. This is partly because the ACS had been improperly recording some opposite-couples as same sex, due to poor survey design. Failing to select the "unmarried partner" box results in the LGBT community being undercounted and, possibly, misunderstood.

The fact is that few federal surveys record any information whatsoever about LGBT people. The Census recording of same-sex unmarried partners and married couples gives a useful, and too rare, glimpse at an important part of the St. Louis community. Please use it.

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