August 16, 2018

Duckworth Helps Introduce Legislation to Ensure Accurate Representation of LGBTQ Community in Census and ACS


[WASHINGTON, D.C.] – U.S. Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL) joined U.S. Senators Kamala Harris (D-CA) Tom Carper (D-DE) and 15 of her colleagues in introducing legislation to require the U.S. Census Bureau to ensure the approximately 10 million Americans who identify as LGBTQ are properly counted for and represented in Census data collection efforts. The Census Equality Act would require the U.S. Census Bureau to add questions related to sexual orientation and gender identity to the decennial census and American Community Survey (ACS) to help prevent undercounting the LGBTQ community. This will make sure these Americans are accurately represented and receive the correct distribution of resources through vital programs, such as Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP).

“The LGBTQ community has long suffered from inadequate resources and underrepresentation, in part due to the Census not collecting collected data on sexual orientation or gender identity,” Duckworth said. “With the 2020 Census fast approaching, we must take action to make sure all Americans are counted equally so that we have a fair and accurate representation of our nation’s population.”

The Census Equality Act:

  • Requires the Secretary of Commerce to expand data collection efforts of the Bureau to include the collection of data concerning sexual orientation and gender identity as part of the Decennial Census and ACS.
    • The Bureau must research, identify, and begin implementing a plan to include SOGI question no late than 1 year after the date of enactment of this Act.
  • Outlines the following timeline –
    • The decennial census must include SOGI questions no later than 2030.
    • The ACS must include SOGI questions no later than 2020.
  • Requires the Bureau to include information on sexual orientation and gender identity alongside any decennial census or ACS report that relies on gender data or household data conducted after the inclusion of SOGI questions.
  • Maintains robust confidentiality and privacy protections for SOGI information, as required by law of all census data.

In May, Duckworth signed a letter requesting the Trump Administration explain how a last-minute question on citizenship added to the 2020 Census would comply with federal law. Duckworth and her colleagues questioned whether the Administration is complying with the Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA), which requires federal agencies seeking to collect information from the public to evaluate whether this information places a burden on the public and how necessary it is.

In addition to Senators Duckworth, Harris, and Carper, the bill is being cosponsored by Senators Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Bob Menendez (D-NJ), Dick Durbin (D-IL), Patty Murray (D-WA), Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH), Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Ron Wyden (D-OR), Gary Peters (D-MI), Tim Kaine (D-VA), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Tina Smith (D-MN), Michael Bennet (D-CO), and Mazie Hirono (D-HI).