Friday, March 13, 2009

Political History of the Census

Strange how just counting heads becomes a political act. Censuses are always political.

Here's a creepy proof of that: the United States census in 2010 will stop tallying same-sex unions and will not record the sexual orientation of citizens. Censuses used to count same-sex common-law couples, but the "Defence of Marriage Act" now forbids collection of such data. Parents of children in same-sex households will be recorded... as single parents.

Canada? Well, Canada does not ask about sexual orientation, but it does tally same-sex couples. They were about 0.5% of all couples counted in 2001's census, and same-sex married couples counted as "married" on the 2006 mini-census (though the gay-rights org Egale criticized the way the question was phrased.) Evidently how all this will be phrased on the Canadian 2011 census is being reviewed.

Of course if StatsCan continues with its insane policy of making the raw census data secret forever, even in a hundred years we won't be able to assess all the implications of the findings. But surely that whole idea is too wierd to survive.
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