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I Don't Want to Tell the Census That I'm Gay. Don't Erase Me.

Stop trying to draft me as a data point for your federal lobbying efforts.

Gay AmericansSyda Productions / Dreamstime.comTwo parts of the upcoming 2020 federal Census have gotten a lot of people upset. First, it will ask people if they're U.S. citizens. Second, it will not ask people if they're gay, bisexual, or transgender.

In all likelihood, there's an overlap: People upset about one are upset about the other, despite the contradiction. That's because they care about the Census to the extent that the answers to the questions can be used to control and influence government. Matt Welch has noted correctly that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants in order to alter the Congressional district map landscape in ways that will be more friendly to Republicans. Democrats and progressives are definitely not happy about that.

For the LGBT question, the exact opposite is happening: People who want a head count of gays and transgender people believe the data will then be valuable in influencing federal policies and spending on projects that benefit LGBT people—or, more accurately, to benefit certain LGBT organizations.

I blogged about this when the outrage first hit a year ago, but now there's a new round of complaints (much of it from people not checking the dates on the stories they're linking to) and some insultingly bad headlines. The Daily Beast claims "Gay and Single? Bisexual? Transgender? The 2020 Census Still Erases You." No. It doesn't. The census is still counting you. It's just not asking your sexual orientation, unless you're in a same-sex relationship. Your body will still be used to determine how many seats your state gets in Congress.

I remember back in the day when it was religious conservatives who wanted to treat gay people as though we were nothing more that our sex lives. What the hell happened here?

It's about the money. Here's how NPR is covering the lack of LGBT questions:

"If this is about how resources are spent or given to communities and we are talking about the LGBTQ community, not everyone is married or in a relationship," says Ronald Lewis, an out gay man who is currently single.

So I guess I won't be getting some check from the feds for being a single gay man. But that was never going to happen anyway. We're talking about lobbying for federal funding for particular projects. This is about pork-barrel spending.

Here's a paragraph in that same NPR piece that's worth picking apart:

But the questionnaire won't have a space for him and other LGBT people who are not living with a spouse or unmarried partner to indicate their sexual orientation. That means for now, there are no reliable national data about how many LGBT people live in the U.S. that can inform public policy.

No, that's just simply not true. First, there is a lot of scientific polling—extensive amounts of polling—about LGBT populations across the United States. Some of it is even by the federal government, via the National Health Interview Survey. You can look at some of the data on this Wikipedia page.

To the extent that those data are not reliable, they're not going to be any more reliable than data gathered by the U.S. Census. That's for the exact same reason that the data the Census collects on citizenship is sketchy: It's only as accurate as people's responses. Many people are not comfortable with telling the government their sexual orientations and will see it as a breach of their privacy.

But this isn't about getting an accurate count. It's about using data to push for policies or funding for groups who claim to represent LGBT people, regardless of whether they actually do.

Count this gay dude out. I'm not going to have my body used to lobby for spending that I probably don't agree with. If they ever add sexual orientation questions to the Census, I won't be answering. The purpose of the Census is to determine congressional representation. Beyond that, feel free to "erase" me from whatever other spending plans you have in mind.

Photo Credit: Syda Productions / Dreamstime.com

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  • Fist of Etiquette||

    As long as they only weaponize the Census against my cultural enemies, I'm fine with whatever extraconstitutional bullshit they get up to with it.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    How could the Census be weaponized against Philadelphia?

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Move it to New Jerksey.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

    Rerouting the flow of the Delaware River around Philly? I am down with that.

  • Longtobefree||

    Through Philly? Without warning?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Hey now! Based on the article's title, we might be able to somehow,use the census to rid ourselves of Tony

  • Johnimo||

    C'mon, man! Tony's the best source of amusement many of us have. Don't be wishin' him erased.

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • Just Say'n||

    Wait, since Kimmel is Schumer's sock puppet, does that mean that Schumer actually insulted FLOTUS? See this is why Jimmy needs to get permission from his handler before speaking.

    Also, does Kimmel know that Hannity knows martial arts? Because, I hear he knows martial arts. Don't let the gut fool you, his hands are deadly weapons or something

  • Chipper Morning Baculum||

  • cereal_shake||

    I saw that earlier, cringeworthy.

  • Agammamon||

    "That's her fifth language. How many do you speak?"

    "The only one that counts - ENGLISH MOTHERFUCKER!"

  • Just Say'n||

    "Beyond that, feel free to "erase" me from whatever other spending plans you have in mind."

    Ok, they'll just mark you down as 'un-personed'.

    All this census stuff is utter and complete nonsense. Just take a count and be done with it.

  • Longtobefree||

    Reapportion the legislature?
    How about a White House secretary sends each state a postcard asking "how many registered voters you got?" and then does the math?
    Save a few billion here, a few billion there, pretty soon the deficit is only huge, not enormous.
    Not to mention an army of liberals does not get paid as census takers.

  • ipsquire||

    I'm no bigot, I just want to treat everyone in particular groups as though they were the same. Oh, wait...

  • Teddy Pump||

    Reminds me of this quote by Yankee coach Elston Howard when asked if manager Billy Martin was a racist....Howard say, "No, Billy is not a racist, he hates everyone equally!"

  • Ron||

    thats always been my answer, guess i'll have to give Billy credit for it now

  • Johnimo||

    Nah … I'm giving credit to The Kingston Trio: "And I don't like anybody very much," in their song from the late fifties or early sixties.

  • Tony||

    There's no contradiction and you spell out why. One question's purpose is malicious and the other's isn't.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Getting an accurate count of where all the gays are sure does seem sinister.

  • cereal_shake||

    As a lefty, I say fuck you.

  • CE||

    "Hitlerian" is the proper term.

  • Mickey Rat||

    Looking for pork barrel spending to be sent your identity group's way is somewhat malicious .

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Not somewhat malicious. Truly and horribly despicable--but far too central to our wanna-be socialist (or crony capitalist) system.

  • CE||

    Yes, prying into their personal lives could well conceal malice. Asking legitimate questions about nationality (actual nationality, not heritage) seems fine for a government questionaire.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    Matt Welch has noted correctly that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants in order to alter the Congressional district map landscape in ways that will be more friendly to Republicans.

    Is there really proof that someone came out and said this? I've seen people talk about it as if it were true fact, but I'm not sure I've seen an actual quote. Anyone got a link?

  • Eidde||

    Look, either there's a link, which would prove the plot, or there isn't a link, which would prove the effectiveness of the plot's cover-up.

    So it's true either way, denier.

  • Just Say'n||

    I think its fair to assume this is the intent of the census changes. Assessing malicious intent to this, though, I think is the leap, considering that citizenship has been asked on every census since the 50's, except for the 2010 census. This seems more like reverting to the standard.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    I think its fair to assume this is the intent

    Cool. So no link?

  • Just Say'n||

    Nah, I suck.

    www.fivethirtyeight.com/featur.....-congress/

    But there was an effort by conservatives in Texas to only count voters in congressional districts so that somewhat highlights the intent behind this.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    My point is, if there's no actual quote of somebody saying so, then Scott printing "Matt Welch has noted correctly" seems to be bad form. I like Scooter, but this don't fly well.

  • Just Say'n||

    I got your point. It's fair

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    IT'S AN OPINION RAG, EVERYTHING IS 'PINION!

  • retiredfire||

    The left doesn't need for someone on the right to actually say what they are being interpreted as saying.
    The left just knows what conservatives mean. Frequently there will be a "dog whistle" or a "code word" uttered, on which the left does a full Karnac, the Magnificent act, and reads the minds of those transparent righties.
    Keep up, $park¥.

  • Johnimo||

    Yes, "Karnac, The Magnificent," that 'splains everything.

  • BYODB||


    Matt Welch has noted correctly that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants non-citizens in order to alter the Congressional district map landscape in ways that will be more friendly to Republicans citizens.

    Does this at all change the meaning?

  • BYODB||

    Basically, I posit the question of what non-citizens should be counted at all given that they are not represented by the United States Congress in any way, shape, or form and aren't intended to be in the first place.

    I mean, otherwise why not distribute census forms to the Ukraine to determine how many Rep's they get in Congress?

  • NotAnotherSkippy||

    The claim is that the plain reading of the constitution doesn't care if you're a citizen or not. It's a reasonably strong claim. On the other hand, Welch and Company have repeatedly claimed that immigration has nothing to do with voting. TWO SEPARATE THINGS.

    Guess they were lying (shocker).

  • MG58||

    Has the benefit of not encouraging game-playing with the giving and taking of citizenship for purposes of apportionment. Of course, the lack of citizenship of slaves and their partial counting plays a big role in the current legal framework around this question.

    If we start going down the "why includes non-citizens" rabbit hole, we could then ask why include non-voting felons and other citizens who don't have political rights.

  • retiredfire||

    Check Section 2 of the 14th amendment.
    Apportionment shall be reduced by the number of eligible voters - male, over 21, US citizens - denied the franchise.

  • Dan S.||

    Yes, and that provision still holds, in theory, even though women and 18-year-olds now vote. I strongly doubt that it will EVER be invoked, that the number of male (only) over-21 (only) U.S. citizens in a state who are denied the franchise will be explicitly used to reduce a state's representation.

  • Ron||

    I don't think the constitution limits representatives to only legal citizens, may have to check on that

  • retiredfire||

    Look into how the 3/5 compromise came about.
    The left is wanting to channel the slave-holding states in being able to use non-voting "persons" to bolster the count, so as to have a disproportionate representation over states that don't have as many non-citizens.
    If there were a large number of illegal aliens at the time, there probably would have been a similar argument.

  • Eidde||

    If the country is really full of homophobia, presided over by a homophobe Hitler-wannabe, then I can't see why any gay person would want to register with the government.

    Then there's the constitutional question about the limitations on Census authority, though that's a bit of an antiquated objection since the Constitution was 100 years old, like the Book of Leviticus.

  • OpenBordersLiberal-tarian||

    That means for now, there are no reliable national data about how many LGBT people live in the U.S. that can inform public policy.

    I was always taught that 10% of people are LGBT. So just multiply the total US population by 1 / 10 to find out how many of us there are. Pretty simple.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    But we need to know how many LGBTQ2I+ people live in The Castro as opposed to Jackson Tennessee. These questions are important. Without answers, we simply don't know.

  • Rat on a train||

    The exact percentage is π^2.

  • BYODB||

    If 10% of the nation was gay, it seems like the AIDS rate would be much higher given a few inconvenient facts regarding self-selected populations.

  • Teddy Pump||

    That 10% is FAKE NEWS & always has been!....The real amount is closer to 2-3%

  • Elias Fakaname||

    That sounds about right, and is I. Line with credible scientific data.

  • John||

    You wanted your pony Scott. To get it you are now going to be marked and counted. Good luck with that.

  • Just Say'n||

    Come on, John. Scott is taking a principled stand here and you're kicking him in the shins just because.

  • $park¥ leftist poser||

    John hates Shaklefraud just because. It's his thing.

  • BYODB||

    There actually are reasons for it, and one of those reasons is contained within this article.

  • Azathoth!!||

    Matt Welch has noted correctly that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants in order to alter the Congressional district map landscape in ways that will be more friendly to Republicans.

    Let's just fix this, shall we?

    Matt Welch has repeated the DNC talking point that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants in order to alter the Congressional district map landscape in ways that will be more friendly to Republicans.

    There, doesn't it feel better to be honest?

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That means for now, there are no reliable national data about how many LGBT people live in the U.S. that can inform public policy

    Knowing where the gay people are might come in handy in the future. Think about it.

  • DenverJ||

    It's not like China town or little Italy: just because a gay community exists somewhere now doesn't mean that's where you'll find their gay children and gay grandchildren in years to come.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    All the more reason to keep track every few years.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Why doesn't the Census just statistically sample gay people, like they wanted to in the 90s?

  • Eidde||

    "statistically sample" - sounds dirty.

  • Longtobefree||

    Not if they consent - - - -

  • Agammamon||

    . . . asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants

    Good.

    I mean, I'm one of those crazy open-border types but I still think that non-citizens simply don't count when it comes to apportioning Representatives - which, I would add, if you can't vote in and out of office (which an illegal can't) then they don't even have the slightest imprimatur of representation - or most other government programs.

    There shouldn't be government programs for illegals and they certainly aren't represented in any form that would have been recognized by the founders - we fought a war to end the practice of a third party assigning people to represent us in our government.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    The whole 'asking about citizenship' question is a tempest in a teapot. It's a distraction. As you point out, they're not legally allowed to vote. I'm also told, repeatedly and forcefully that illegals are scared of having contact with authorities and so having them fill out that information on a form that they... send to the authorities seems like an exercise in statistical theater.

    All of this was warned about in the 90s when the Clinton administration started to politicize the Census process.

    It's not that hard: Enumerate people so we can apportion representatives. Fuck your welfare state. We have other departments for that.

  • Jerryskids||

    Children can't vote either, but they still count those little brats.

  • Longtobefree||

    we fought a war to end the practice of a third party assigning people to represent us in our government.

    Are you sure we won?

  • BYODB||

    Do you think the people who mark 'yes' to being transgender to help the movement even while they're not transgender will out number the people who are transgender and mark 'no' to avoid nosy busy bodied government entities?

  • Eidde||

    That depends on whether there's a statistically-significant transgender population who aren't focused on telling everyone about their particular eccentricity.

  • BYODB||

    I guess it might be moot since the 'transgender' population is so small that most people consider it to be less than the number of people who, say, die in a swimming pool each year. (A joke, perhaps, but not far off from the truth as one might expect from a specific delusion.)

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    If it were a question on my census I'd answer "yes". There's literally no working definition of the term, so you can put whatever the fuck you want and it's all good.

  • Episteme||

    See the confusion that's come out of letting dames wear bloomers?

  • CE||

    Matt Welch has noted correctly that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrants in order to alter the Congressional district map landscape in ways that will be more friendly to Republicans.

    That's funny, I thought it was a legitimate question to determine how many US citizens there are.

    Asking about your private life should be off limits. Citizenship is your public life.

  • Shirley Knott||

    Citizenship is a birth defect occasionally covered with a tattoo.
    As public as your face, and as private.

  • FlameCCT||

    Citizenship is a Constitutional requirement for voting! Something which several Reason authors seem to conveniently forget!

  • XM||

    We should be like France and remain the dark about the nonwhite demographics.

    "There's like 20-30% of them OK"

  • Hank Phillips||

    I wonder what Christian National Socialist census forms looked like...

  • Elias Fakaname||

    The same as bitter snarky unfunny atheist tool I'd wager.

  • Longtobefree||

    The census has constitutional authority to reapportion the house of representatives. It does not have constitutional authority to be the determination of where to spend a gazillion tax dollars.

    Only valid question: How many people live here?

  • retiredfire||

    It may not have had "constitutional authority to be the determination of where to spend a gazillion tax dollars" but it did
    have a role in determining how we should be taxed. Until the 16th amendment came along.
    Original text, removed by the 16th A:
    "No capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken."

    As for spending a gazillion tax dollars; here's James Madison on the subject:
    "I cannot undertake to lay my finger on that article of the Constitution which granted a right to Congress of expending, on objects of benevolence, the money of their constituents."

  • GILMORE™||

    ""It's about the money.""

    Also what citizenship questions are about, fwiw.

    while some (Welch?) have highlighted the idea that asking citizenship questions will suppress response rates, and thus over a longer term have an impact on how congressional seats are apportioned... that impact is both slow, and in the net, probably not as significant to GOP vs. Dem balance of power as is currently being sold.

    Huffpo looked at the question 10 years ago

    Politically, the effect of counting immigrants is a tough one to figure. If you count immigrants in the census, some solid-blue Democratic states would lose a total of four House members ("Reps"), as well as three Reps from some mixed (or "purple") states. Texas, a solidly red Republican state would gain two Reps, but two fairly evenly purple states would gain five Reps as well.

    If you don't count immigrants, three solidly blue states would lose the same four Reps, as well as one Rep from one purple state. Two red states would gain the same two Reps, and the same two purple states would gain three Reps.

    In both cases, red states are up two Reps, blue states are down four Reps, and the rest migrate between various different purple states (of differing shades of purple). So it's not easy to see what the political benefit truly is to either side.

    net-net, its not some huge crusher for GOP

  • GILMORE™||

    2/

    but what it DOES potentially significantly influence is growth of federal spending over the next 10 years.

    lots of team-blue constituencies, and their respective puppet-pols in congress, rely heavily on growth of federal $ to their districts. if response rates neuter that, slow growth significantly... well it at the least punishes these places that are so politically reliant on illegal immigrants.

    And it seems to be something that the GOP would welcome democrats complaining about. Because what would be more-appealing to voters than having one party say,

    "Hey, this is unfair! i deserve to suck more taxpayer money to my district because i've got lots of immigrants!" Surely that will be a popular campaign theme?

    anyway - i think both the 'congressional seat apportioning' and the 'spending' issues influence the topic, but i think the 'spending' one is really the meat of it, and something few want to debate openly, because it would put one side in the position of arguing, 'But I deserve more $$ because of ...illegal populations', which is hardly the sort of thing citizens like to hear.

  • Inigo Montoya||

    So correct me if I'm wrong, but the census people will only consider orientation in the context of a current relationship?

    If someone is currently single, they will be neither straight nor gay. It's only at the moment of entering a relationship that their sexual identity will be determined?

    Sort of like Schrödinger's cat — except it's a quantum super position of sex?

    Okay... Just when I thought government couldn't get much dumber.

  • silver.||

    I am both gay and straight until laid.

  • Echospinner||

    Not that hard.

    What happens if you just don't give answers that fit in the boxes?

    Not much.

    Race: human

    Religion: Jedi

    Sexuality: yes

    Citizenship: earth

    That would confound the poll takers.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Human? What if I identify as Kryptonian, or Gallifreyan? It's my choice according to those idiot progtards.

  • John C. Randolph||

    I never answer any question that's not relevant to the constitutional purpose of the census.

    -jcr

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Census takers (and written equivalents) should only say two things:

    "How many people live in this home?"

    "Thank you"

  • ||

    California becoming a "sanctuary state" before the 2020 census makes more sense now. Pack all the illegal immigrants there before the census, don't allow the feds to enforce immigration laws, and get an even bigger slice of the pie in the House. Makes sense. It is also bothersome.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Enter that CA is out on under martial law.

  • Longtobefree||

    Matt Welch has noted correctly that asking about citizenship is a deliberate effort to undercount illegal immigrant

    Cite a source for the word correctly, especially in light of the qualifier deliberate.
    Matt Welch repeating it does not make it true.
    I would say any claim about impact on the count is speculative at best, and assumes facts not in evidence, as Perry Mason would have said.

  • fwdeible||

    I'm glad you noted this, but I do find it interesting that it's pretty much the same group of people who one minute are shouting about the immigrant-status question being included, then shouting about the sexuality question not being included. It seems to me that the Federal government should have a legitimate interest in the former, and should leave us all the fuck alone about the latter.

  • TTanin||

    I doubt people who are here illegally were ever participating in the Census. The guy running the boarding house two blocks over isn't going to admit he has 25 Honduran day-laborers living with him.

  • Liberty Lover||

    I don't want to tell the census where I live, what I do for work, my ethnic origins, my sex, the date of my birth, my marital status or that I am alive. Yet I bet they have all this information already.

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