NEW YORK - (AP) - With strong backing from the Census Bureau,gay-rights activists are urging maximum participation by theircommunity in the first U.S. census that will tally same-sex coupleswho say they're married - even those without a marriage license.

For the first time, the bureau has deployed a team ofprofessional field workers to reach out to gays and lesbians. Andthe bureau has unveiled its first public-service videos encouraginggay Americans to mail in their census forms.

Only the District of Columbia and five states have legalized gaymarriages. But the Census Bureau says same-sex couples in any statewho consider themselves spouses should feel free to check the"husband" or "wife" boxes on the census form, rather than"unmarried partner."

Some conservatives have complained that the eventual count ofsame-sex unions will be legally inaccurate while serving asammunition for gay-marriage advocates.