Officials plan to edit the responses of same-sex married couples to show them in census tabulations as "unmarried partners," the San Jose Mercury-News reported Saturday. The decision was dictated by several federal mandates, including the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, officials said.
Martin O'Connell, who heads the bureau's Fertility and Family Statistics Branch, told the newspaper the bureau has considered the matter "for quite a long time."
"It's not something the bureau could arbitrarily or casually decide on a whim, because our data is used by virtually every federal agency," he said.
That's the problem, say gay rights advocates.
"To have the federal government disappear your marriage I'm sure will be painful and upsetting," Shannon Minter, legal director for the National Center for Lesbian Rights, told the newspaper. "It really is something out of Orwell. It's shameful."
Jennifer Kerns of ProtectMarriage.com, which is pushing for a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage in California, said the census policy shows how legalization of same-sex marriage could dictate government policy shifts.