The Census Bureau today released its first estimates of the number of same-sex married couples in the U.S., as well as alternatives counts to the published data for same-sex unmarried couples that try to account for data-processing issues.
The counts and characteristics of same-sex couples are among the most written-about data from the 2010 Census and American Community Survey. Yet, two decades after the Census Bureau began offering people the option to describe themselves as a same-sex “unmarried partner,” producing accurate numbers remains a challenge.
The ongoing release of so-called SF1 data from the 2010 Census–detailed local-level tabulations about age, families, housing and other topics–has produced a wave of news stories about the changing family. Stories from newspapers in California and Pennsylvania focus especially on same-sex couples.
The American public is sharply divided in its judgments about the sweeping changes in the structure of the American family that have unfolded over the past half century. About a third generally accepts the changes; a third is tolerant but skeptical; and a third considers them bad for society.
The pre-eminent family unit of the mid-20th century—mom, dad and the kids—no longer has the stage to itself. A variety of new arrangements have emerged, giving rise to a broader and evolving definition of what constitutes a family.