Democrats and GOP have opposing views on LGBTQ poll bill

An attempt to be more inclusive, or the federal government being too nosy? Democrats and Republicans on Tuesday held sharply opposing views on proposed legislation that would include optional questions about sexual orientation and gender identity in federal demographic surveys.

The Democrat-controlled House Oversight and Reform Committee passed a bill that would require federal agencies that collect demographic data through surveys to ask about sexual orientation and gender identity, but no one would have to give the information, nor would they be penalized, if they refuse to do this, do so.

Supporters of the law said it could help provide much better data on the LGBTQ population nationwide at a time when views about sexual orientation and gender identity are evolving and right-wing extremists are flaring up Anti-LGBTQ rhetoric on-line.


The committee’s Democratic chair, US Rep. Carolyn Maloney, said the move would help make data collection as comprehensive as possible.

“By embracing this, we can ensure that our policies are more equitable and inclusive of the constituents we serve,” said Maloney, from New York.

Members of the Republican committee called the measure of government intervention and encroachment most personal.

“We should be alarmed at this attempt by the federal government to collect such sensitive data,” said Republican US Rep. Andy Biggs of Arizona.

Republican committee members proposed changes that would require the legislation to provide a definition of gender, only allow people to answer such questions about themselves, and restrict the questions to adults only. Biggs also proposed a change that would require illegal data collection of people in the United States, in a discussion related to then-President Donald Trump’s failed efforts to include a citizenship question in the 2020 census.


All Republican amendments were rejected.

The legislation was being debated at a time when the Census Bureau was separately asking for $10 million for studies spanning several years how best to ask on sexual orientation and gender identity for his annual American Community Survey and as President Joe Biden explained June as LGBTQ Pride Month. It’s also happening as some Republican-dominated state legislatures have imposed restrictions what can be discussed about sexual orientation and gender identity in schools and forbidden Prevent transgender girls from competing in girls’ sports.


Some federal agencies already ask about sexual orientation and gender identity, but limit themselves primarily to health and criminal justice surveys. The decennial census and several Census Bureau surveys give same-sex couples the opportunity to answer whether they are married or cohabiting. But that leaves out LGBTQ people who are single or not living with their partner in the same household, and for the gender question, “male” and “female” are the only options.

The online Household Pulse Survey is the only Census Bureau survey to ask these questions, but it’s classified as experimental and may not meet some of the quality standards for the nation’s largest statistical agency.

Several members of the Democratic House of Representatives also on Tuesday called on directors of the Office of Management and Budget and the Census Bureau to add a Middle East and North Africa category, also known as MENA, for the once-a-decade census and other federal surveys.


The Census Bureau recommended adding a MENA category to the 2020 census, but the idea was dropped by the Trump administration.

Decades-old Office of Management and Budget standards have designated residents of the Middle East and North Africa as white. Adding a separate MENA category would help ensure residents with roots from that region receive federal funding and produce more accurate data, the letter to OMD Director Shalanda Young and Census Bureau Director Robert Santos said.

“Because members of the MENA community have their roots in either the Middle East or North Africa, OMB’s standards cannot capture the lived experience of many community members,” the letter reads.


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Copyright 2022 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, transcribed or redistributed without permission. Democrats and GOP have opposing views on LGBTQ poll bill

Sarah Y. Kim

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