I find myself having mixed thoughts on this one. The headline reads:
Senate Bill To Require Sexual Orientation, Gender Identity Data By 2030 Census
The bill is called the Census Equality Act, and was introduced yesterday by Democrats in the Senate, notably Kamala Harris of California and Tom Carper of Delaware. The rationale …
“The spirit of the census is that no one should go uncounted and no one should be invisible. We must expand data collections efforts to ensure the LQBTQ community is not only seen, but fully accounted for in terms of government resources provided.”
Harris and the other Democrats behind the bill say this information could help more LGBT people get access to Medicaid, Section 8 housing vouchers and food aid through the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program, or SNAP. According to a 2013 report by the Williams Institute, income levels of lesbian, gay and bisexual people are more likely than those of heterosexual people to fall below the federal poverty line.
Okay, so I think the bill is well-intentioned, and I cannot argue with any of the above. They also claim that more comprehensive data about LGBT people could also help better enforce civil rights protections against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity and prove those cases in court. Hmmmm … maybe.
My fear is that in the current climate of ever-increasing bigotry, and ‘religious liberty’ laws intended to discriminate against any seen as ‘other’ by white Christian evangelicals, the additional data collected about the LGBT could be used in other, discriminatory ways.
“The Senate bill would require the Census Bureau to protect all sexual orientation and gender identity information it collects under the same privacy standards for other types of data. Federal law prohibits the bureau from releasing any census information that would identify individuals until 72 years after it is collected. But the agency can release anonymized data about specific demographic groups at levels as detailed as a specific neighborhood.”
Very reassuring … until you remember the face of our leadership today. The term “Federal law prohibits …” disturbs me because as we have seen so many times in the past 18 months, federal law is easily enough changed. And when one considers Jeff Sessions’ creation of a “Religious Liberty Task Force” just two days ago that is fully intended to discriminate against the LGBT community, I see a disaster looking for a place to happen.
The U.S. Census Bureau falls under the auspices of the Department of Commerce, headed by Wilbur Ross, another wealthy ($2.5 billion net worth) Trump sycophant. Already Ross has stirred controversy by adding the citizenship question to the 2020 census form, allegedly to “protect minority voter’s rights”, but the fear is that the intent is to identify non-citizens for the purpose of potential deportation. Additionally, Ross failed to properly divest from his financial holdings and is the subject of an ethics investigation. None of which is pertinent to the census question, but rather throws up red flags about his ethics in general.
I cannot help thinking about how, under a corrupt regime, one ruled by a group of people who disparage any who do not fit into their vision for the country, such as LGBT, might use such data. Perhaps I am being overly-suspicious, but under the Trump regime, I haven’t seen much reason to believe that diversity is valued.
On April 26, 1938, the “Decree for the Reporting of Jewish-Owned Property” issued by Hitler’s government took effect. Need I say more?
As I said, I am torn on this one, for I think the intent is good, but believe it could lead to something much more devious than the original intent. Until 20 January 2017, I would have supported the bill, would have taken it at face value and trusted our government. For me, that trust has been lost. Your thoughts?