Census loses 255,000 same-sex households

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Uh, oh. The U.S. Census Bureau said Tuesday that it lost more than a quarter of a million same-sex households. That’s 255,533 gay homes out there wandering the streets at all hours, unsupervised and unaccounted for. Will it impact Georgia’s big gay population gain?

How did the Census get in such a mess? You know statistics can be a messy business.

Earlier this month, the bean counters estimated that a whooping 901,997 same-sex couples could be found in the U.S., spread across 99 percent of U.S. counties. Take that, Fred Phelps!

But oh, wait. Seems the bean counters miscounted, misjudged or mis-estimated. On Tuesday, they revised those numbers down – way down – explaining away the 255,000 couple hiccup as correcting an inconsistency in the responses in the 2010 Census. So we go from 901,997 same-sex households to 646,464 — 131,729 same-sex married couple households; 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner ones.

“We understand how important it is for all groups to have accurate statistics that reflect who we are as a nation,” Census Bureau Director Robert Groves says in a prepared statement. “As scientists, we noticed the inconsistency and developed the revised estimates to provide a more accurate portrait of the number of same-sex couples.”

The new numbers more closely match those of the 2010 American Community Survey, which tallied 593,324 same-sex households.

Here’s how the Census counts the gays and where the error cropped up:

Statistics on same-sex couple households are derived from two questions on the census and ACS questionnaire: relationship to householder and the sex of each person. When data were captured for these two questions on the 2010 Census door-to-door form, the wrong box may have been checked for the sex of a small percentage of opposite-sex spouses and unmarried partners. Because the population of opposite-sex married couples is large and the population of same-sex married couples in particular is small, an error of this type artificially inflates the number of same-sex married partners.

What’s that mean for Atlanta’s No. 5 spot on the list of big cities with same-sex couples? The Census didn’t make that clear on Tuesday, so start looking for those 4,299 same-sex households reported earlier this month – that’s 22.2 per 1,000 households.

Same goes for Georgia, which has 29,844 same-sex households, or at least it did until Tuesday. That number was a 55 percent jump from the 2000 Census.

Where should Census officials start looking for those lost gays? The Georgia mountains. The gays love their mountain living.


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