Census will discount same-sex marriages

July 12, 2008 at 7:43 PM

SAN JOSE, Calif., July 12 (UPI) -- U.S. Census Bureau officials say their final 2010 census report will not include same-sex marriages, regardless of whether such marriages are legal in a state.

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.

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