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U.S. Census Bureau to recognize married, same-sex couples as families

Tuesday, May 27, 2014
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Cynthia Wides, right, and Elizabeth Carey exchange wedding vows at City Hall in San Francisco, Saturday, June 29, 2013. Marcio Jose Sanchez, AP (File)

Cynthia Wides, right, and Elizabeth Carey exchange wedding vows at City Hall in San Francisco, Saturday, June 29, 2013.

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Census Bureau will begin recognizing married, same-sex couples as families in its 2013 American Community Survey report, due out in September.

The report marks the first time the census plans to integrate an estimated 180,000 married, same-sex couples with statistics concerning the nation’s 56 million families, according to The Washington Post.

Same-sex couples have been recorded by the census for almost a decade, but until now, the statistics have not been included as part of its data on families. Instead, they have been categorized as “unmarried partners,” even when couples reported themselves as spouses.

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Because of the large disparity between the number of gay and straight married households, combining the two is not expected to have a significant effect on the statistics that scholars and planners use to analyze how families are changing, but observers say its significance is symbolic of the growing acceptance of gays in American society.

“I think the American public already thinks same-sex married couples are families, and the Census Bureau is just catching up with public opinion,” said Andrew Cherlin, a sociologist at Johns Hopkins University who studies families.

The bureau’s move follows the June 2013 Supreme Court decision striking down the Defense of Marriage Act, which had prohibited married, same-sex couples from receiving federal marriage benefits.

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