TIME

Why Uncle Sam wants to know how many LGBT people are in America

Counting LGBT Americans could spur changes in health care, military policies and more

FOR CENTURIES, BEING LESBIAN, gay, bisexual or transgender in America meant hiding at least part of who you were. The stigma traces as far back as the colonial era, when sodomy was a capital crime. The culture has shifted over time, and recent decades have brought a rapid social transformation. Today, as the LGBT population moves into its full and equal place in public life, more officials are asking an old question with new urgency: Just how many LGBT Americans are there?

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