Census officials are urging gay and lesbian couples to count their unions as a marriage – even those not legally married.

It's the first time the Census Bureau is encouraging gay couples to ditch checking the “unmarried partner” box in favor of “husband” or “wife” if they consider themselves married.

Gay couples can marry in only five states – Massachusetts, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Vermont and Iowa – and the District of Columbia. Maine was the first state to legislatively legalize gay marriage, but voters repealed the law before it took effect.

Census officials were joined Monday by openly lesbian New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn, and Star Trek star George Takei and his husband Brad Altman at the LGBT Center in New York City.

At the press event, officials also unveiled a series of official public service announcements geared to the LGBT community.

One features Takei and Altman encouraging gay and lesbian couples to claim married status.

“This is the first time in history the Census is counting marriages like ours,” an enthusiastic Altman says in the PSA.

“It doesn't matter whether you have a legal marriage license or not,” Takei adds. “It only matters if you consider yourself married.”

Takei told reporters that the change would help secure gay rights.

“We pay taxes, we vote, we serve in the military and yet we don't have equality,” he said. “To get that equality, it's very important for us to be identified. This is what the census is going to do.”

Opponents of gay marriage criticized the move, saying it redefines marriage.

“We're treating the gay community the same as other segments of the population,” Tim Olson, a Census Bureau assistant division chief, said at the event “There's a respect factor there. … We've never asked people to show us their marriage licenses. We don't do that for straight people.”

Other videos feature Harry Knox, director of Religion and Faith Program at the Human Rights Campaign, Mara Keisling, executive director of the National Center for Transgender Equality, Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of the International Federation of Black Prides, and Ben de Guzman, co-director for programming at National Queer Asian Pacific Islander Alliance, encouraging everyone to be counted.