WASHINGTON-DC: The National LGBTQ Task Force worked with Sen. Kamala Harris ( D-CA ) and Sen. Tom Carper ( D-DE ) have introduced legislation to make the Census see the LGBTQ community. The bill, called the Census Equality Act, would add sexual orientation and gender identity questions to the Census and American Community Survey.
"We are proud to work with national leaders to introduce legislation to ensure the LGBTQ community is included in the Census," stated Meghan Maury, policy director at the Task Force Action Fund.
Maury explained that the bill is especially important now, after the Trump administration demanded that a citizenship question be added to the Census. Including a question on citizenship, experts and advocates say, would only serve to lower Census participation. Maury explained, "This administration is trying to depress the count of Black and Brown people in the Census through the addition of a citizenship question. This will result in a less accurate Census. Our Constitution requires a complete and accurate count of the population that means a Census that includes people of color and the LGBTQ community."
The Census Bureau was moving forward with testing questions for the "long-form" Census - the American Community Survey - on sexual orientation and gender identity, but the administration stopped it. Rea Carey, executive director of the National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund, explained that "The Census Equality Act will put the Census Bureau back on the path it initiated two years ago to count LGBTQ people." She added the Task Force was in full support of the bill. "We call on members of Congress to support a full, fair, and accurate Census by becoming co-sponsors of the Census Equality Act and opposing efforts to add an untested citizenship question to the Census."
Census results determine how billions in federal funding are spent and how we are represented in Congress. Advocates use Census data to press decision-makers for change and to enforce critical civil rights protections. Service providers use these data to make sure resources meet community needs.
LGBTQ people need to be counted —— our voices matter. The Census impacts our access to public benefits, democratic representation, and the enforcement of our civil rights. The Census is used to:
Direct more than $800 billion in federal funding for programs like SNAP, Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers, and foster care. LGBTQ people are more likely to live in poverty: it is critical that these dollars are directed to the communities where we live.
Draw the boundaries of our legislative districts and determine our representation in Congress. In an age when LGBTQ rights are on the ballot and being debated in the halls of Congress, it is more important than ever that LGBTQ people are represented and are able to wield political power.
Enforce civil rights protections. Census data can be used to show the impacts of systemic oppression, which attorneys cite when attempting to enforce laws like the Fair Housing Act and the Americans with Disabilities Act ( ADA ).
Organizations expressing support for this legislation include the Leadership Conference on Civil and Human Rights, Center for American Progress, NALEO Educational Fund, Asian Americans Advancing Justice|AAJC, Human Rights Campaign, Indivisible, National Black Justice Coalition, People for the American Way, National Center for Lesbian Rights, American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU ), SAGE, UnidosUS, Bisexual Organizing Project - BOP, Bend the Arc Jewish Action, Equality California, Jacobs Institute of Women's Health, Movement Advancement Project, In Our Own Voice: National Black Women's Reproductive Justice Agenda, Family Equality Council, All-Options, Los Angeles LGBT Center, American Psychological Association, The Trevor Project, Witness to Mass Incarceration, CenterLink: The Community of LGBT Centers, Whitman-Walker Health, Center for HIV Law & Policy, A Better Balance, Equality North Carolina, Union of concerned Scientists, FORGE, Inc, and National Asian Pacific American Women's Forum ( NAPAWF ). Contact us for a full list of organizational supporters.
In addition to Senators Harris and Carper, the bill is sponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand ( D-NY ), Bob Menendez ( D-NJ ), Dick Durbin ( D-IL ), Patty Murray ( D-WA ), Amy Klobuchar ( D-MN ), Jeanne Shaheen ( D-NH ), Elizabeth Warren ( D-MA ), Jeff Merkley ( D-OR ), Ron Wyden ( D-OR ), Gary Peters ( D-MI ), Tim Kaine ( D-VA ), Cory Booker ( D-NJ ), Tina Smith ( D-MN ), Michael Bennet ( D-CO ), and Mazie Hirono ( D-HI ).
The National LGBTQ Task Force Action Fund works to secure full freedom, justice, equality, and equity for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer ( LGBTQ ) people. For over forty years, we have been at the forefront of the social justice movement by training thousands of organizers and advocating for change at the federal, state, and local level. www.thetaskforceactionfund.org