The Census Bureau announced Friday that
married gay and lesbian couples would be counted in the 2010 national
tally, flipping an earlier decision, the AP reported.
Previously, officials had stated that
the Defense of Marriage Act, or DOMA, the 1996 law that defines
marriage as a heterosexual union for federal agencies, barred them
from including gay couples married in six mostly Northeastern states
in the count.
But the White House announced Friday
that it did not believe DOMA prevented the bureau from including gay
“They will be counted, and they ought
to report the way they see themselves,” Steve Jost, a spokesman for
the Census Bureau, said. “In the normal process of reports coming
out after the census of 2010, I think the country will have a good
data set on which to discuss this phenomenon that is evolving in this
Incorporating the changes does not
require any alterations to current census forms, which ask about
relationships between members of a household.
“This is about folks' identity,”
Jost said. “We are experienced in dealing with changing social
phenomena and how to measure and report it, and we want to get it
President Obama has come under intense
pressure from gay rights activists who say they want the president to
make good on campaign promises he made to the GLBT community,
including repealing DOMA.
“The president and the administration
are committed to a fair and accurate count of all Americans,” White
House Spokesman Robert Gibbs said. “We're in the midst of
determining the best way to ensure that gay and lesbian couples are
It is the second victory for married
gay couples in as many weeks. Last week, the
State Department announced they would allow gay and lesbian couples
to use their spouse's surname when applying for a passport.
Officials at the department also
previously claimed that DOMA barred the recognition of gay couples on
passports. But in a letter dated June 15, the Justice Department
notified a gay rights group suing the federal government for benefits
denied to married gay and lesbian couples that the prohibition was no
longer in effect.