Not So Simple Census

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I hope that you filled out your census form. Me, I'm still confused. Ten years ago, I didn't have these issues.

Should I call Brian my husband or my wife? There isn't a space for 'spouse' and that sounds too technical anyway. My straight friends are comfortable with the term 'partner,' but I didn't get married to make my straight friends comfortable. And 'lover' seems too precious, a holdover from the 1970s when it was fashionable to be gay.

I refuse to compromise with titles like 'roommate.' So I decided to invent a term for 'was my husband until the state of California voted on my marriage.' Brian suggested 'gay divorcee,' but is outlawing gay marriage really a divorce?

Then there are the kids. I am glad they left me a spot for 'adopted,' but I had to work through the race issue. Again, there was no box for three quarters black and one quarter white. And for the younger one, I wrote in, "No idea who his birth father was... Some say Hispanic, some say Black...I'm guessing Irish."

But oddly enough, there was a box for 'Negro,' which I thought of as antiquated, but maybe it's now retro. I'm not really sure what the rules are in post-racial America and what my mixed race, mixed preference family should take offense at. If my sons are now 'Negro,' should I call myself 'Uranian'? I'm wondering if President Obama looked at the form before it was sent out, and which boxes he checked off.


Then there was the issue of telephone number. I could write my home phone number, but no one answers their home phone anymore. I could put down my cell number, but I really don't want to spend my monthly minutes explaining why I wrote in my own category, 'Wuzband.'

The only question for which I was certain of the answer was the one I least wanted to admit to: my age. Fifty-one means that this is my sixth census, and so you would think I would have gotten the answers right by now. Maybe next decade the census people will include a box for the perpetually 39.

With a Perspective, this is Kevin Fisher-Paulson.