The U.S. Census Bureau has never asked Americans about sexual orientation and gender identity. Last year, though, requests for that data came from more than 75 members of Congress and multiple federal agencies.
Still, the Census Bureau concluded "there was no federal data need" to collect this information, the bureau's outgoing director, John Thompson, wrote in March.
A document obtained by NPR through a Freedom of Information Act request, however, reveals that the Department of Housing and Urban Development told the bureau that there indeed was a need.
"Valid, reliable, and nationally representative data on sexual orientation and gender identity are essential to HUD fulfilling its mission," former HUD Secretary Julián Castro wrote in a letter to Thompson dated June 30, 2016.