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Same-sex marriage complicates census

July 6, 2009 at 9:25 PM   |   Comments

WASHINGTON, July 6 (UPI) -- The U.S. Census Bureau faces a challenge from the six states that started allowing same-sex marriage during the 10 years since the last census, officials said.

Although the federal Defense of Marriage Act defines marriage as between a man and a woman, government lawyers ruled the census may report the number of same-sex couples who say they are married. Previously, these couples were classified as unmarried partners, USA Today reported.

The Census Bureau must redesign computer programs so same sex couples are not automatically reclassified, a spokesman for the Commerce Department said. "The census questionnaire has not evolved as quickly as America has," Nick Kimball said.

Other data must be changed with the addition of same-sex couples, including classifications of family income and family size. In addition, the federal marriage act applies to agencies that use Census data to distribute federal funds or enforce fair housing or equal opportunity laws.

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