Pressure works

PRESSURE WORKS…. In light of the recent criticism of the Obama administration from supporters of gay rights, many started to wonder whether the White House realized the degree to which many were angry and frustrated.

The reactions weren’t immediate, but there’s growing evidence the administration is trying to address these concerns.

The White House said Thursday it was seeking ways to include same-sex marriages, unions and partnerships in 2010 Census data, the second time in a week the administration has signaled a policy change of interest to the gay community.

The administration has directed the Census Bureau to determine changes needed in tabulation software to allow for same-sex marriage data to be released early in 2011 with other detailed demographic information from the decennial count. The bureau historically hasn’t released same-sex marriage data. […]

Gary Gates, an expert in gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender demographic data at the University of California at Los Angeles, called the administration’s move “a very positive step,” adding that he would like to see more details.

The move, of course, comes shortly after the president “issued a directive providing federal employees protection from discrimination based on sexual orientation and an expansion of some benefits to same-sex partners.”

I can appreciate why it’s hard to get too excited over steps that should be obvious. Of course the census should expand to include data on same-sex partnerships. Of course the federal government should protect its employees from discrimination and extend benefits to same-sex partners. The administration is just keeping up with moves that were long overdue.

Indeed, so many of the White House’s moves on gay rights — personnel appointments, the diplomatic passport issue, the inclusive White House Easter Egg Roll, the Pride Month proclamation, the support for an updated hate crimes bill — seem more like no-brainers than civil rights breakthroughs.

That said, they are steps in the right direction — steps that seem to be coming more quickly in response to the recent round of intense criticism.