Senate Dem bill would add questions on sexual orientation, gender identity to census

Senate Dem bill would add questions on sexual orientation, gender identity to census
© Greg Nash

A pair of Senate Democrats are introducing a bill to require the U.S. Census Bureau to start collecting data on American’s sexual orientation and gender identity.

Sens. Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisEmhoff lights first candle in National Menorah-lighting ceremony GOP becoming a cult of know-nothings Stowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami MORE (D-Calif.) and Tom CarperThomas (Tom) Richard CarperFive ways Senate could change Biden's spending plan Advocates see pilot program to address inequalities from highways as crucial first step Democrats plow ahead as Manchin yo-yos MORE (D-Del.) introduced the measure Tuesday, requiring the bureau to add the questions to the census by 2030. The legislation also requires the bureau’s American Community Survey to add questions on sexual orientation and gender identity by 2020.

LGBTQ advocates have pushed for the census to include questions on sexual orientation and gender identity, but the bureau declined to add the queries for the upcoming 2020 census. 


Harris and Carper said in a release that the new legislation will help members of the LGBTQ community obtain resources like Medicaid, housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“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,” Harris said in a statement. “This information can also provide us with better tools to enforce civil rights protections for a community that is too often discriminated against.”

Carper said in a statement that the LGBTQ community is “left unrepresented on the census” and that the bill will help the government and businesses “have the most accurate and comprehensive data on those they serve.”

While it does not include questions on sexual orientation, the 2020 census will for the first time allow respondents to say whether they are part of a same-sex couple.

The 2020 census has faced scrutiny after the Trump administration said it would include a question on citizenship, which critics say will cause undocumented immigrants to skip the survey and be undercounted.

Democratic states sued the administration over the citizenship question almost immediately after it was announced.