H/t to Ed O’Keefe at The Washington Post:
The Census Bureau will for the first time publicly release the number of gay marriages reported in a decennial census, as it plans to release raw data about same-sex relationships in the 2010 headcount, according to new guidelines released today.
The decision reverses a Bush-era policy that prohibited the release of the data. In a legal opinion published last week, Commerce Department lawyers concluded that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act does not prohibit the Census Bureau from publicly releasing the data, contrary to the conclusions reached by Bush administration lawyers.
Continuing current policy, the new guidelines state that software used by Census enumerators will recode answers given by same sex-partners who mark their relationship status as “husband or wife,” to “unmarried partner.” But then, in late 2011, Census officials will for the first time release the raw state-by-state data on same-sex couples that marked their relationship status as “husband or wife.”
The new policy marks a continued shift in how the Census handles declarations of same-sex partnerships. In 1990, enumerators made a practice of changing the sex of a person described as the husband or wife of a head of household to reflect the opposite sex. In 2000, the bureau instead edited the data to describe same-sex couples as “unmarried partners.”
The Census will first report same-sex marriage data later this year when it releases the 2008 American Community Survey. The results of the annual housing and population survey will include unedited responses regarding relationship status.