Self Identification

This was the first year that I ever got to fill out a census as husband, father, homeowner, and all around adult. The last census, both Angela and I were living in a dormitories (in two different states, no less). It was such an small but satisfactory sense of self-worth.

In the bigger picture, the U.S. Census is a constitutionally-mandated check-up on who makes up our country. But something that really struck me is that it is no longer about what labels can the government assign to us so much as it is a questionnaire of how we see ourselves. My wife was absolutely thrilled that she was able to check more than one box for race (you’d be surprised how many forms still only allow for one option). So, she able to describe to the government how she sees herself as well as how we see our children.

There is a short, cutesy video explaining to same-sex couples that they are allowed to mark how they view themselves and their relationship. It’s short and stars George Takei and his husband, Brad Altman:

The same concept applies here: the census is about discovering how we view ourselves and not what labels others want to use. Whether it be race or marital status on the census, or religion or even gender, I – and my country – am realizing that self identification is far more important that external labels.

In a country where individualism is celebrated, this is the census we should use1. The government of the people has to let the people define themselves.

  1. Though, in 2020, it damn well better be electronic! []

Ruining it for the Rest of Us

The Pew Research Center has put up a nice, interactive graphic showing some marriage statistics by state. So, based on what we’ve always been told, you might expect liberal states — especially those which have allowed same sex marriages — to have some of the worst numbers.

It doesn’t really pan out that way, though. In particular, the states with the highest percentage of men having been married three or more times are some of the reddest of the red states: Arkansas (10%), Oklahoma (9%), Tennessee (9%), Alabama (8%), and Mississippi (8%). The state with the lowest percentage in this category? Blue, gay-lovin’ Massachusetts at 2% (stats aren’t much different for women, incidentally). So much for the gays ruining marriage; we heterosexuals seem to be devaluing that hallowed institution just fine on our own.