Are You Married?

Timothy Kincaid

September 14th, 2009

lesbian_wedding_cakeThat is a question that will be asked on the 2010 US Census and it you’re heterosexual it’s a pretty easy question to answer. But not if you are a same-sex couple.

Sure, if you live in Massachusetts and are married in the eyes of your state, or if you’re a single guy or gal who is living footloose and fancy free, then you know your answer. But what if you’re somewhere in between?

Suppose you live in South Dakota and you have made vows before your community blessed by your place of worship and honored by your friends and family. Are you married?

Or suppose that you live in New Jersey and entered into a civil union which has “everything but the name”. Are you married?

Or you live in California where the Supreme Court justified the implementation of Proposition 8 by stating that domestic partnerships are acceptable equality provided that there not any provisions offered differently between domestic partnerships and marriage. Is “included on the census” a difference? Are you married?

Or you married in Connecticut but live in Virginia. Traveling cross country would have you married on one day and total strangers on the next. Or if you live in Rhode Island and the state has told you that it will not grant you a divorce for your legal Massachusetts wedding. Are you married?

At some point, state law almost becomes moot in answering this census question. Because recognition based on one’s current residence may dictate whether one’s marriage is recognized, but say very little about whether one is married. At some point the real answer becomes, “Yes, in the eyes of my family, my friends, my employer, my neighbors, my community, my city government, my church and, most importantly, me and my spouse, I am married. And if my state can’t ‘recognize’ that simple fact, then it needs to clean its glasses.”

And that is just how same-sex couples are expected to answer questions about their marriage status in next year’s census count. (WaPo)

When the U.S. Census Bureau counts same-sex married couples next year, demographers expect hundreds of thousands to report they are spouses — even though legal same-sex weddings in the United States number in the tens of thousands.

The Post goes on to suggest that the primary motivation for this will be to provide a basis for advocating for gay rights. And indeed, the data will be used to show that gay people are everywhere in this nation and that even the most conservative representative in the reddest state has married gay constituents he needs to serve.

But I think the motivation will be much more primal and personal. I think couples will tick the “married” box because, well, they are. And what else could you expect them to answer?


September 14th, 2009

Agreed. It doesn’t have to be recognized in order to be truth.

Let everyone see the truth now for once.


September 14th, 2009

As I wrote a few months back in an op-ed published here in Maine, my partner and I are married twice – once in a chapel here in Maine with clergy in front of our loved ones, and once by a justice of the peace in Nova Scotia. Regardless of whether anyone likes it or not, and regardless of the outcome of November’s referendum, the fact itself of our marriage remains. We just expect our government to step up to the plate and recognize that reality.

Lindoro Almaviva

September 14th, 2009

That’s the reason why I have not married. I am an aggressive person and if anything like that happens to me, my response will be:

Listen, this is my marriage license, there is a statute in the US constitution called the Full Faith and Credit Clause that clearly mandates that Acts, records and judicial proceedings or copies shall have the same full faith and credit in every court within the US and it Territories and Possessions as they have by law or usage in the courts of such State, Territory or Possession from which they are taken. So, if you get on the way of federal law, be prepared for me to sue you all the way to the Supreme Court. After the SCOUTS confirm that you were wrong, be prepared for me to sue you for all your are worth. In summary, by the time I am done, it will be my father’s name on top of the building and my signature on everyone’s checks except on yours; because you will be fired faster than you can do a 180 turn. Now move! 10, 9, 8, 7…

I’m not kidding. I could care less what HRC says, or what Lambda legal says. This sh1t happens to me and I will sue and if HRC and Lambda get on the way, I’ll sue them for cluttering my suit so I do not get my day in court. For me is as simple as that. Then again, I tend to see things in black and white and I remind myself every day that we live in the gray areas.


September 14th, 2009

We and several friends of ours have decided that we’ll definitely answer “married” on the Census form. We are in-between, too–we’re legal in New York, and married in Massachusetts (had to *twice*!) to make that happen, but as you said, it’s awful to travel cross-country and become considered legal strangers. We have a lot of paperwork to take with us when we travel, and we’ve been told that our use of a shared hyphenated last name and the fact that we both wear wedding and engagement rings might help us if, Gods forbid, our status to each other is challenged.

Anyway, I didn’t realize that there’s a broader movement afoot here. I’m really glad to read that. That’s what the Census is for anyway–a snapshot of the USA that shows us all what we really are.


September 14th, 2009

I actually suspect that a majority of same-sex couples living in marriage-like relationships will say that they are not married.

And I suspect that as soon as the results of the census are released, anti-gay groups will pounce on the findings as “proof” that gays and lesbians cannot form durable relationships….


September 15th, 2009

Surely there must be precedent for couples being married in their state but not recognised as such by the federal government, since marriage laws vary between states. What do Mormon (or Muslim) polygamists say on the census?


September 15th, 2009

We live in a state where our union of over 10 years isn’t legally recognized, but considered ourselves “married” in any event. Unfortunately, we’ll never get the chance to make it official since my partner passed away a few weeks ago from cancer. Of course, we had to go through all of the other legal channels spending several thousand dollars to make sure we were protected.


September 15th, 2009

I was recently selected by the census bureau for one of their micro-samples about employment. The study lasted 6 months or so (more or less, I can’t remember, but they called every month).

I told them my domestic partner status (my SO was a non-resident alien up until 6 weeks ago, so we couldn’t enter into a domestic partnership without risking deportation).

The census bureau marked us as “married.” I’m wondering how many other times this has happened. Given that we’ve lived in the same household (in different places) for nearly 10 years, it does strike me that there is probably little sociological difference between long-term cohabitation and legal marriage – just a guess.

I’d like to know how many married couples happen to be of the same sex – despite whatever normative rule the Census applies. I bet the numbers would be quite a surprise.

Timothy Kincaid

September 15th, 2009


Our thoughts and prayers are with you during your time of loss.

zoe kentucky

September 15th, 2009


I am so sorry.

Regarding the census– if we get asked my wife and I will most certainly say we are married; if they question us we’ll show them our rings, wedding and honeymoon albums. We’ve been together for 10 years, married for nearly 7. What else would we say?


September 18th, 2009

Tim, my husband and I have been together 23 years, and we married in Vermont last week; however, we live in Virginia, where our relationship has no status–and in fact cannot legally exist. The next few weeks may be interesting, since I plan to register my husband with my employer–a state institution of higher education that has a nondiscrimination policy which includes sexual orientation; if they refuse to recognize the relationship based on state law, I will sue based on its nondiscrimination policy.

With regard to your question, we will absolutely mark that we’re married on any census we receive. We are! And this tangled mess of married-not married state and federal laws has GOT to go!

Richard W. Fitch

September 18th, 2009

Reading all the comments on this thread raises for me the awareness of how antiquated some of the states’ rights issues have become. We live in a society where hundreds or thousands of families/people move across state lines in any year to gain employment and other vital opportunities. When marriage and adoption rights are state based and conservative courts very hard to move into the 21st century, it imperils the livelihood and lives of a considerable number. DOMA really needs to go!


September 21st, 2009

As a sidenote, I’ve done a fair amount of genealogical research into my Utah pioneer ancestors. Those who were in engaged in polygamy were always recorded in census records as such (Head of Household, Wife, Wife, etc.), though those plural marriages were not legally recognized in Utah Territory and certainly not by the federal government.

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