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.