Some say “partner,” some say “wife” or “husband,” but the data is in – a little over one in five same-gender, unmarried domestic partners call themselves “married.” According to data from the 2008 American Communities Survey, released yesterday by the US Census Bureau, of the estimated 564,743 same-gender couples living together and identifying themselves as “domestic partners,” 149,956 said they had a relationship akin to “husband and wife.”

In Minnesota, Census Bureau spokesman Robert Bernstein said there were 4,683 domestic partnerships between two women and 3,535 domestic partnerships between two men. Why the convoluted language? Because the Bureau does not actually ask people their sexual orientation, Bernstein said, despite pressure from LGBT activist groups that made this the first survey to seek out data on the LGBT community.

The AP reports that Census Bureau surveyors attributed the disparity to couples living in states without marriage equality, but it also raises the question of how accepted the term “marriage” is within the community, a critical component of some activists’ arguments against the Human Rights Campaign’s advocacy in support of same-gender marriage.

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