THE BLOG
10/05/2011 04:22 pm ET Updated Feb 02, 2016

Bi 'Marriage' and the Census

What exactly is a "bi marriage"? Is it possible? Is it noble, modern, confounding, redundant? Or is it just an oxymoron?

I'm prompted to ask because the U.S. Census Bureau on Sept. 27 released corrected figures showing that 131,729 same-sex couples checked "husband" or "wife" on the most recent nationwide census forms, and that Americans claiming to live with same-sex partners totaled 650,000 couples.

That's impressive (and quite possibly an undercount), but how many of those people -- or couples -- identify as "bi" or live in a "bi" situation -- or "bi marriage"? (Or trans situation, or fluid, or pan, or, well, pick your own moniker -- but more on the political/organizational importance of self-identification some other day). Indeed, how would bi people reflect any of their unique circumstances on the census forms?

The every-ten-years tally didn't quite go into that much detail, but this latest report did make me wonder, especially when I think back on censuses (censi?) gone by: my relationship with my late husband was of course "gay" (though I'm guessing we were merely recorded as "roommates," if at all, in the nation's enumerating archives), and my relationship with my wife is "straight" -- does that negate my own bi identity?

And just what the heck would a "bi" relationship be? Would it by definition have to be nonmonogamous? Would a "bi" marriage have to be three partners, or one partner who has a male spouse and a female spouse (or the equivalent thereof)? Would such a relationship have to entail all three living together, in the same bed, at the same time? (I hope the Census Bureau never goes quite that far in its probing -- but I know there are researchers who would just love to see that data.)

Oh, there are no doubt a few bi people out there who love such a challenge and go out of their way to "live a bi married lifestyle" just to say they do, to experience and integrate such communal/diversified permutations into their lives. But after living several decades as a self-identified bi person, all I can say is that the simple complexity (quite a concept) of getting just one other person to accept me for who I am (i.e., boring...er, I mean, bi) has been difficult enough, let alone two or more, and let alone any other combination. Anything beyond one-to-one for me would require a degree in quantum physics. Then again, just being bi poses a multitude of binary predicaments, at least for me: I'm still trying to fathom and put into practice the mindset that my goddess friend Robyn Ochs -- yes, bi, yes, married to a woman (the first such female couple to legally be wed in Massachusetts) -- conceptualizes as "Beyond Binaries."

Unfortunately my poor brain can only handle so many semantical challenges in a day; the concept and construct of a "bi marriage" is way beyond me, for the time being -- now I've even given myself a headache. I think I'll leave census figures and permutations to statisticians and social theorists -- I have a difficult enough time just trying to figure out what I want for lunch.