The U.S. Census Bureau is catching up with public opinion in an evolving nation. The bureau announced last week that same-sex married couples now will be counted as families. This is a natural evolution for the census, which should provide an accurate snapshot of life in America and not be rigid about sticking with out-of-date categories.
Oregon and Pennsylvania became the latest states to legally recognize same-sex marriage as federal judges overturned their bans. That makes 19 states, along with the District of Columbia, where same-sex couples are able to marry. It should be only a matter of time before bans in Florida and other states are struck down by the courts.
Before the Census Bureau made its change, same-sex married couples had been categorized as unmarried partners even if they listed themselves as spouses. Data has been collected on same-sex couples for a decade now, but it's been separated from information on straight marriages. The Census Bureau is now able to provide a more accurate count of how many same-sex couples live in the United States. With the latest legal developments, 44 percent of Americans now live in a state that recognizes same-sex marriage, compared with just 16 percent only 18 months ago. There is now a challenge in every state with bans on same-sex marriage, and those census numbers are only going to grow.