Queer the Census

George Takei and Brad Altman appear in perhaps the most memorable Census ad in history.

I’m a bit bemused at the notion that people should fill out the Census based on their own perceptions of reality rather than reality itself. I get that some gays consider themselves married even though they live in states that don’t recognize same-sex unions. But are heterosexual couples who aren’t married supposed to fill out the Census based on whether they think they’re married or whether they are married? For that matter, are we to fill out the Census on where we think we live or where we actually live?  Or how many children we have, or have many we think we have?

via Annie Laurie

FILED UNDER: Gender Issues, Government, , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Common law marriage still exists. And the requirement there is that people, “hold themselves out as married.”

  2. legion says:

    Heh. I knew Takei had come out awhile back, but I didn’t know he was with Altman. That’s a talented couple of dudes there.

  3. James Joyner says:

    Common law marriage still exists. And the requirement there is that people, “hold themselves out as married.”

    True enough, although most states have long since moved to a formal marriage requirement and quite a few never had common law marriage.

  4. James Joyner says:

    I knew Takei had come out awhile back, but I didn’t know he was with Altman.

    I’d forgotten who his partner was, even though I wrote about it in October 2005: “George Takei, Star Trek’s Sulu, Discloses Homosexuality.”

    The 68-year-old actor said he and his partner, Brad Altman, have been together for 18 years.

    […]

    Clearly, given that he has been with Altman for longer than most married couples, his orientation has been an open secret among those who knew him for quite some time.

  5. Have a nice G.A. says:

    Common law marriage still exists. And the requirement there is that people, “hold themselves out as married.”

    Are we to fill it out on what we think we think anything means?

    Common law marriage is permitted in a minority of states. To be defined as a common law marriage within the states listed below, the two parties must: agree that they are married, live together, and hold themselves out as husband and wife. Common-law marriage is generally a non-ceremonial relationship that requires “a positive mutual agreement, permanent and exclusive of all others, to enter into a marriage relationship, cohabitation sufficient to warrant a fulfillment of necessary relationship of man and wife, and an assumption of marital duties and obligations.” Black’s Law Dictionary 277 (6th ed. 1990).

  6. Dave Schuler says:

    It depends on the state.

    39 states don’t recognize common law marriage and only one, Iowa, recognizes common law same sex marriages (in an untested statute).

  7. Carlo says:

    But the ad is factually correct, according to statement by census bureau officials:

    http://huff.to/azUpW

    Apparently they really do want to collect data on people’s perceptions of reality. After all, perceptions are part of reality too!

  8. Herb says:

    Didn’t George Takei used to have some acting chops? That laugh at the end…totally didn’t buy it.

    On the issue:

    This one I understand more than the movement to put “Human” as your race to stand up against racism. Finding out how many gay couples consider themselves married (despite the law) seems to be more useful than finding out where all the clever culture jammers are.

  9. Highlander says:

    Two perfectly nice gentlemen. I’m glad for them that, they are in an apparently good and lasting relationship.

    But can August 9, 378 AD be much further away?

  10. Mithras says:

    The census form also asks my race. Can I put down what I think I am, or is there some objective reality that I should be referring to? Can I really check “White” if one of my grandparents was black and the rest white? Does the answer vary whether I am in New York, Charleston or New Orleans? Show your work.

  11. Trumwill says:

    Mithras, I’m relatively certainly you can put anything you want to for race.

  12. Steve B says:

    Given that so many people are being urged to “self-identify” their sexuality or gender these days, regardless of what equipment they have, race is surely something self-identified as well.

    I’d think that you could call yourself married in relation to the census if you plan to files as “married” on your tax return. A pretty basic legal threshold.

  13. Jay Tea says:

    Actually, Takei and Altman are legally married. They tied the knot during the window between the court ruling and the proposition, and the courts have “grandfathered” all those marriages.

    J.

  14. An Interested Party says:

    But can August 9, 378 AD be much further away?

    I see…so gay marriage means the end of this country? Wow, if that is the way your mind works, the next few decades are going to be very painful for you…

  15. Rodney Dill says:

    I put down Other – Indy 500 for race.

  16. James Joyner says:

    Dave Schuler was apparently going to list his as “Iditarod” but his wife talked him out of it.