Editors' note: Ché Ruddell-Tabisola joined the U.S. Census Bureau in January to serve as national LGBT Partnership liaison and coordinate the work between the Our Families Count census public education campaign and nearly two dozen Census Partnership Specialists who work with LGBT Communities. Che has also managed Special Projects at the Human Rights Campaign.
The 2010 Census is historic for LGBT communities. For the first time the census will count same-sex married couples, even if we live somewhere our relationship isn't recognized. It is also important to know that transgender respondents are counted as the gender with which they identify.
These remarkable qualities of the census, however, do not cancel the importance of the question I'm asked most: Why does the census not ask about sexual orientation or gender identity?
The answer is that the U.S. Congress - who is the ultimate authority over the census - has not called for those questions to be asked. Each question is on the form because a federal law requires that information to be gathered. There is no law that directs the census to ask for the collection of sexual orientation or gender identity.
People are usually disappointed with that answer. But I don't feel excluded from the census because it does not ask if I am LGBT. We have many identities, and most of them are not asked about in the census. I am several things: the son of immigrants, a spiritual person, a friend - as well as the husband to the most loving man in the world.
I am also a member of the community where I live, and I care about job training, senior citizen centers, public transportation, and that my neighbor's kid across the street goes to a good school.
My community depends on me to participate in the census, just like I depend on them to do the same. That's why I'll be participating in this historic census. I hope you will be too.