When the 2010 U.S. Census numbers are tallied, gay and lesbian couples will be represented as never before.

The government is making an unprecedented push to the gay community, rolling out public service announcements featuring openly gay actor George Takei and other community leaders from around the country. The ads, as well as printed material and other outreach materials, are designed to draw attention to the 2010 census being the first to report counts of both same-sex partners and same-sex spouses, said Jewell J. Carter Warnock, a media relations representative for the U.S. Census Bureau.

“The Department of Commerce’s general counsel reached a legal conclusion that reversed a policy of the previous administration and clarified how the Census Bureau can report the growing number of same-sex marriages in the United States,” Warnock said. “The Census Bureau's mission is to measure the U.S. population and provide accurate information on changing demographics. As our society and laws change, we must also adapt to this change. Our portrayal of household relationships must accurately represent existing circumstances. We are determined to reach each and every person living in our country. We also support and stand behind everyone's right to ‘self identify.’ The best way to get the message out about this change is via a targeted-marketing campaign. “

The census doesn’t ask abut sexual orientation of gender identify, and GLBT people who live with a spouse or partner can identify the relationship by checking either the “husband or wife” or “unmarried partner” box. Transgender people should select the sex with which they identify, according to the bureau.

Even as it expands its categories, the census remains one of the shortest ever at only 10 questions, Warnock added, pointing out that an additional effort, the American Community Survey, delves deeper into questions about relationship and current marital status.

Once the numbers are in, the bureau will begin releasing data in 2011, and special reports in 2012. Among those will be one that examines how same-sex couples reported their relationships, and it will not recode same-sex couples who report themselves as husbands and wives as unmarried partners, Warnock said.

INFO BOX:

For more information on the 2010 Census and the GLBT community, visit: www.OurFamiliesCount.org.

GRAPH/CHART:

Same-Sex Couples in Tennessee

Total Households: 2,232,905

Same-Sex Couples: 10, 189

Male Couples: 5,090

Female Couples: 5,099

Couples Raising Children: 3,053

Source: U.S. Census, OurFamliesCount.org

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