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Valued Families

What is a family?

Almost everyone in the nation can agree on the meaning of the word "family," but there is wide disagreement about who qualifies under that definition.

Who is a family?

The US Census Bureau definition of family is quite simple: "A family is a group of two people or more (one of whom is the householder) related by birth, marriage, or adoption and residing together."

Different folks, however, have very different ideas.

University of Indiana sociologist, Brian Powell, conducted three surveys over seven years that charted what Americans were willing to define as a family unit. A recent Time Magazine article reviews the results:

Currently, 68% of Americans count a same-sex couple with children as a family, up from 54% in 2003. Clearly the kids have something to do with it -- just 33% of people see a same-sex couple sans children as a family. Some 30% of respondents were willing to group pets into their menage, but not the same-sex couples.

Remarking on the findings, Powell told the Associated Press: "The sheer idea that gay couples are given less status than pets should give us pause."