Although only the District of Columbia and five have legalized gay marriages,the census bureau says same-sex couples in any state who consider themselves spouses should feel free to check the "husband" or "wife" boxes on the census form, rather than "unmarried partner."
Jaime Grant, Director of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, called the move "humongous," especially given that federal law does not recognize gay marriages or civil unions.
Gary Randall, President of Faith and Freedom Network, stated that the census "is leaving it to responders to characterize their own relationships, regardless of legal status. Will homosexual numbers be inflated by this 'you decide what you are' policy? Probably. This policy shift is another attempt to confuse the discussion about marriage by creating a problem of sorts, then providing a solution that advances the homosexual agenda of redefining marriage."
The census forms do not inquire directly about sexual orientation, and some gay-rights activists have complained that this means single gays — as opposed to those with live-in spouses and partners — have no means of gaining collective representation through the census.
Olson said an act of Congress would be needed to add a sexual orientation question to the form, and some activists are already planning a campaign to achieve that. In a first step, a campaign called "Queering the Census," activists are distributing stickers for gays and lesbians to attach to this year's forms on which they can identify themselves as gay, lesbian, transgender or bisexual.