The U.S. Census Bureau wants the 2010 count to report the number of married same-sex couples for the first time, but the process presents logistical challenges to the bureau.
"The Census questionnaire has not evolved as quickly as America has," said Nick Kimball, spokesman for the Commerce Department, which oversees the Census Bureau.
Since the 2000 Census, anyone who reported being in a same-sex marriage has automatically been classified as an "unmarried partner," USA Today reports.
In 2000, no state allowed same-sex marriage, while today six states allow such marriages, and the Obama administration has said it wants same-sex couples to be "accurately reflected in Census reports."
But if the Census uses current methods, it would "unmarry" people in same-sex marriages who checked off "married couples," even in states where same-sex marriage is legal.
The challenge is to change the software that processes Census questionnaires so it doesn't automatically reclassify same-sex married couples to unmarried partners. But the Census Bureau is not certain it can make the change by 2010, according to USA Today.
The Census Bureau reported in 2007 that there were about 6.2 million unmarried-partner households in the U.S., of which around 5.45 million were opposite-sex partnered households. Households with male partners numbered 395,000, and with female partners, 358,000.
Gary Gates, a demographer at UCLA's Williams Institute on Sexual Orientation Law and Public Policy, estimates that 35,000 same-sex couples are now married.
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