A revised Census report released this week reveals the number of same-sex married couples living in Tennessee, right along America’s Bible Belt, has doubled during the last decade.
One out of every five same-sex couple in Tennessee checked the “married” box on the 2010 census form, according to revised Census statistics.
Census figures now show in Tennessee that out of 10,898 self-reported same-sex couples in 2010, 1,959 identified themselves as married to their partner, and 1,968 families were raising children under age 18.
Nationwide, the revised number of same-sex couples in the U.S. nearly doubled in the past ten years, with about 650,000 counted in the data. From that total, there is 20 percent, or 131,729 in the nation, which identified themselves as married.
“While it may appear that the numbers are up in Tennessee, this is just a reminder of the reality that we are in a culture war,” the Rev. Mike Fox, author and speaker from Marriage for Today, told The Christian Post.
“Those of us that stand for Christian traditional marriage, are now in a place where we have to publicly display what we really believe. We must make our voices heard and our vote count.”
Mistakes made on some 2010 census forms led the U.S. Census Bureau to issue the revised report with new statistics for same-sex married couples and unmarried partner households.
After discovering the inconsistency, Census Bureau staff developed another set of estimates to provide a more accurate way to measure same-sex couple households.
"We understand how important it is for all groups to have accurate statistics that reflect who we are as a nation," said Census Bureau Director Robert Groves in a statement.
Pro-gay activists say society is accepting same-sex marriage on a wider scale, making it easier for some people to identify their sexual orientation on a government form.
However, researchers say even the revised Census report could be inaccurate due to discrimination or other concerns about confidentiality or hate crimes.
In 2006, voters passed a state constitutional amendment defining marriage as the union between only one man and one woman, with an 81 percent majority.
"The numbers increased in Tennessee despite setbacks that the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender community have faced during the last ten years," the Tennessee Equality Project said in a statement.
"Tennessee's demographics and lack of inclusive laws are on a collision course. The state is increasingly home to many same-sex couples who live in every county despite the fact that state government and no local government in the state recognizes their relationships."
Bishop Harry Jackson, Jr., a senior pastor of Hope Christian Church in Maryland just outside Washington, D.C., has been a vocal part of anti-same sex marriage campaigns both in his home state and nationwide.
He said he still believes that spiritually we're dealing with whether we're going to inculcate a pro-gay lifestyle culture.
“Nobody wants anybody to be discriminated against or hurt, in terms of employment or any of those kinds of things,” he said in a recent interview.
“I think in many places, the legal issues are settled. The moral issues still remain.”
Jackson said he believes for some, same-sex marriage will begin to influence how children think, not in terms of discrimination, but in terms of maybe this is a valid path for them.
“Our scriptures tell us we should not be moving in that way,” he said.
“Years from now, folks will say, ‘Well, there was once a movement of all these bigoted people who decided that they didn't want to have same-sex marriage,’ and it really puts the faithful in a place where they are seen as being bigots, fascists, all those kinds of things.”
He said same-sex marriage is the line of demarcation in America today.
“Once we say same-sex marriage is okay, then why not polygamy? And therefore it just leads us from a social perspective down a slippery slope.”
He said the Supreme Court is going to decide it ultimately in a couple years. “And what we all weigh in on and say will influence their decision.”
The results of the 2010 Census revised estimates are closer to the results of the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS) for same-sex married and unmarried partners. The 2010 Census estimates same-sex married couples at 152,335 and same-sex unmarried partners at 440,989.
According to revised estimates from the 2010 Census, there were 131,729 same-sex married couple households and 514,735 same-sex unmarried partner households in the United States.
Statistics show the percentage of non-religious people is the highest in the northwestern state of Washington, compared to the states in the Bible Belt where the percentage is the lowest.