US: Census to stop categorising same-sex married couples as ‘unmarried’

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The US Census Bureau is to finally begin categorising same-sex married couples as families, and stop categorising them as ‘unmarried’.

The American Community Survey results from 2013, which will be published in September 2014, will mark the first time the census integrates data from same-sex married couples into information regarding families across the US.

Despite same-sex marriage becoming legal in the state of Massachusetts over ten years ago, back in 2003, until the 2013 survey, same-sex married couples had been categorised as “unmarried partners”, even if couples wrote down that they were spouses.

As there is a much greater number of opposite-sex married couples compared to same-sex spouses, the change in policy is expected to have little effect on the data produced by the surveys, the move is being hailed as mainly symbolic, given the changing attitudes towards LGBT people in America.

The Census Bureau regularly reassesses the way it phrases questions, and those asked, but processes are often long.

Many have noted that unmarried, cohabiting straight couples were not categorised separately until 1990.