Thursday, August 25, 2011

When the 2010 Census is Released...

In 2082 when the 2010 U.S. Federal Census is released there will be something new on there.  Something that really was never tracked before.  Something that will shed light on families in a new way.  The census will show same-sex couples.

It doesn't really matter what your personal opinion is about whether same-sex marriage is right or wrong.  This is data, and last I checked, we as genealogists/family historians are supposed to deal in facts.  Or at least try to figure out as close as possible what those facts are and how they pertained to our ancestors.  Won't this do that for those researchers that come after us and are researching their ancestors?  Wouldn't you have loved to have known those relationships when looking at old census records?

I wasn't planning on a post tonight.  It's been a hectic week with my kiddos starting school on Monday, but as I was getting ready for bed, I decided to do a quick check of the news and this headline on CNN caught my attention, "Census: More Same-Sex Couples in More Places."  As a genealogist, how could I not click on a census news story?

The article tells us that, "...for the first time the decennial census results report counts of same-sex partners and same-sex spouses, regardless of whether same-sex marriage is legal in their states."  The results won't technically refer to the partner as a spouse but rather as an unmarried partner (marriage wasn't legal in any of the states at the time of the census).

Granted, the article isn't about how useful this will be to future generations of genealogists, but a genealogist/family historian doesn't really need to be told.  Just lead us to the information.  We understand it's significance.  Well, we usually do.

What the census does not record is the sexual orientation of the people enumerated.  Some said that it should have been included in this census and therefore they didn't go far enough.  I'm sure that we'll see it enumerated at some point in the near future.  Maybe in the 2020 census.  Who knows, but no doubt future researchers will enjoy seeing the changes in the census just as we have!