On July 31, Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Tom Carper of Delaware introduced the Census Equality Act—LGBTQ equality legislation that would require the Census Bureau to address LGBTQ invisibility by adding new questions on sexual orientation and gender identity.
The spirit of the census is that no one should go uncounted and no one should be invisible. We must expand data collections efforts to ensure the LGBTQ community is not only seen, but fully accounted for in terms of government resources provided. This information can also provide us with better tools to enforce civil rights protections for a community that is too often discriminated against.
We have a responsibility to ensure the information collected by the census accurately reflects who we are as a society and that everyone is counted fairly. Today, despite the fact that roughly 10 million Americans identify as LGBTQ, the community is left unrepresented on the census. In order for our government and the businesses that drive our economy to work for the American people, they must have the most accurate and comprehensive data on those they serve. While long overdue, I am proud that this legislation finally calls upon the Census Bureau to add a question to the Decennial Census and American Community Survey on sexual orientation and gender identity—so that all Americans can be represented equally and have their voices heard.
If the Trump administration’s census citizenship question represents the census at its worst, then the Census Equality Act represents the best of what the census can hope to achieve. As we work to ensure that the 2020 census does not fan anti-immigrant flames, we must work toward a more inclusive enumeration no later than 2030. People For the American Way proudly endorses this legislation.