Gay-rights activists are urging maximum participation by their community in the first US census that will tally same-sex couples who say they're married—even those without a marriage license. For the first time, the bureau has deployed a team of professional field workers to reach out to gays and lesbians, and has rolled a public service announcement encouraging them to mail in their forms, the AP reports. The move has drawn fire from conservatives, who complain that it's another step toward redefining marriage.
Only five states have legalized gay marriage, but the Bureau says same-sex couples in any state who consider themselves married should feel free to check the "husband" or "wife" boxes rather than "unmarried partner." Conservatives complain that allowing couples to define their own relationships is confusing and lends legitimacy to gay marriages, but the Census Bureau defends the practice."There's a respect factor there," one official said. "We've never asked people to show us their marriage licenses. We don't do that for straight people."