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Same-Sex Couples

How the ACS deals with same-sex relationships is changing rapidly.


As laws about same-sex marriage have changed in the United States, the Census Bureau has been adapting. From the beginning of the American Community Survey, table B11009, Unmarried-partner Households by Sex of Partner, has been the only table which provided information about people who have told the Census Bureau that they live with a partner of the same sex. As explained in the Census Bureau's Frequently Asked Questions About Same-Sex Couple Households document, responses reporting a spouse of the same sex as the householder were changed to indicate an unmarried partner, regardless of state laws permitting same-sex marriage.

Beginning with the 2013 American Community Survey data, , tables with a line for "married couples" include both opposite-sex and same-sex marriages in one number. No tables were added or changed to directly provide data about the respective numbers of opposite-sex and same-sex marriages, although some supplemental data releases are available. In the ACS, columns which use the words "husband" and "wife" continue to reflect heteronormative assumptions, although many of those are "no husband/wife present." We have a question in to the Census Bureau to clarify how data for those columns/tables has been handled since the 2013 ACS.

Beginning with the 2019 American Community Survey, the Census Bureau directly included same-sex married and unmarried relationships as part of the queston about how people in the household are related to the householder. As data from this survey has not been released, it's not yet clear how it will manifest in the tables.