Democratic Sens. Kamala Harris of California and Tom Carper of Delaware introduced a bill on Tuesday to add questions to the United States census regarding sexual and gender identity.
The Census Equality Act would necessitate the Secretary of Commerce to collect data on Americans’ sexual orientation and gender identity, which would be included in both the decennial census and the American Community Survey. The legislation would require implementation by 2030 and 2020, respectively.
“The spirit of the census is that no one should go uncounted and no one should be invisible,” Harris said in a press release. “We must expand data collections efforts to ensure the LGBTQ community is not only seen, but fully accounted for in terms of government resources provided. This information can also provide us with better tools to enforce civil rights protections for a community that is too often discriminated against.” (RELATED: Challenge To Census Citizenship Question Can Proceed, Judge Rules)
In a tweet, Harris further explained why the legislation matters, asserting “communities that aren’t counted or are undercounted receive less resources [and] representation.”
I’ve just introduced the Census Equality Act to include census questions on sexual orientation & gender identity that were excluded by the Trump Administration.
Why it matters: communities that aren’t counted or are undercounted receive less federal resources & representation.
— Kamala Harris (@SenKamalaHarris) July 31, 2018
Although the 2020 census does not directly ask questions regarding one’s sexual orientation or gender identity, there is a question allowing for respondents to note if they are part of a same-sex couple, according to The Hill.
“We have a responsibility to ensure the information collected by the census accurately reflects who we are as a society and that everyone is counted fairly,” Carper added. “Today, despite the fact that roughly 10 million Americans identify as LGBTQ, the community is left unrepresented on the census. In order for our government and the business that drive our economy to work for the American people, they must have the most accurate and comprehensive data on those they serve.”
“While long overdue, I am proud that this legislation finally calls upon the Census Bureau to add a question to the Decennial Census and American Community Survey on sexual orientation and gender identity – so that all Americans can be represented equally and have their voices heard,” Carper continued.
The White House faced outrage from Democrats when President Donald Trump suggested adding a citizenship question to the 2020 census. Democrats from Harris’ state of California were especially vocal in their opposition, claiming it would deter immigrants from participating in the survey.
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