Oklahoma gay rights organizations are praising the U.S. Census Bureau’s decision to allow same-sex couples who are married, or consider themselves to be married, to identify one person in the same house as "husband or wife.” Scott Hamilton, the executive director of the Cimarron Alliance Foundation, an Oklahoma City-based gay rights advocacy group, said the decision could have a positive impact on the state’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. "That’s a really big jump for the federal government, although the federal government does not recognize marriage between same-gendered persons, even if they were married legally as my partner and I were in the state of Connecticut,” he said. "It is a means of gaining a better understanding of how many people are in committed partnerships.” Emmett Morris, a Census Bureau Partnership Coordinator in Kansas City, said, "It is up to the individual couples themselves to classify that difference. We’re not going about telling people how they should do that. It’s up for them to self identify and describe in responding to the census.” A fact sheet on the Census Bureau’s Web site, 2010.census.gov, states, "Census data are based on how individuals self identify and how couples think of themselves.” It goes on to state, "Same-sex couples who are married, or consider themselves to be spouses, can identify one other adult as a ‘husband or wife.’ Other same-sex couples may instead decide to use the term ‘unmarried partner.’” The gay rights organization Oklahomans for Equality is encouraging the state’s same-sex married couples to check the married instead of the unmarried partner. "We just wanted to make sure that our gay couples who traveled to other jurisdictions and got officially married ... that they register on the census as married, whereas in the past they would have thought it wasn’t legally recognized,” said Toby Jenkins, president of Oklahomans for Equality. But Michael Jestes, executive director of the Oklahoma Family Policy Council, a nonprofit organization promoting family public policy, said allowing gay partners to identify as "husband” or "wife” is ignoring federal and state laws defining marriage. "Every person answering the census for any matter must abide by the laws governing their federal or state laws, especially defining marriage as a union of a man and a woman,” Jestes said. "So if a law-abiding citizen wants to be accurate they can’t choose their own law to identify with but go by the federal or state law that is defining that particular issue.” Morris said the legal counsel for the U.S. Commerce Department determined last summer that allowing gay couples to self identify is not in opposition of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. Same-sex marriages are not recognized in Oklahoma. The state approved a constitutional amendment in 2004 defining marriage as between one man and one woman. The amendment also prohibits giving marriage benefits to people who are not married. It declares that same-sex marriages in other states are not valid in Oklahoma.