Expectations that the 2020 census might start including LGBTQ subjects were raised and then quickly dashed on Tuesday after the U.S. Census admitted that it had "inadvertently" included "sexual orientation" and "gender identity," in a long-awaited report outlining new categories for the survey. In response, GLAAD's CEO, Sarah Kate Ellis, branded the move as a "systematic effort on behalf of the Trump administrationn to erase LGBT people."
Last year, various federal agencies urged the Census Bureau to include sexual orientation and gender in their data as it was crucial to their role in enforcing the law. The survey, which has been conducted every ten years since 1790, includes a wide range of questions designed to gather data on everything from languages spoken to household plumbing facilities. The current census, however, only allows for a snapshot of same-sex households, but Democrats in Congress had pushed for more specific questions around sexual orientation and gender identity to improve results. The logic was simple: With more focused questions law makers would be better equipped to ensure appropriate legislation to improve the lives of LGBTQ citizens.
Although the Supreme Court, in 2013, struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, paving the way for the census to change the way it tracks same-sex households, the White House has sent yet another powerful signal that it considers LGBTQ concerns as frivolous.
Meghan Maury, Criminal and Economic Justice Project Director of the National LGBTQ Task Force released a statement:
"Today, the Trump Administration has taken yet another step to deny LGBTQ people freedom, justice, and equity, by choosing to exclude us from the 2020 Census and American Community Survey. LGBTQ people are not counted on the Census—no data is collected on sexual orientation or gender identity. Information from these surveys helps the government to enforce federal laws like the Violence Against Women Act and the Fair Housing Act and to determine how to allocate resources like housing supports and food stamps. If the government doesn't know how many LGBTQ people live in a community, how can it do its job to ensure we're getting fair and adequate access to the rights, protections and services we need? We call on President Trump and his Administration to begin collecting sexual orientation and gender identity data on the American Community Survey as soon as possible and urge Congress to conduct oversight hearings to reveal why the Administration made the last-minute decision not to collect data on LGBTQ people."