A news segment about Unmarried America was aired last night on WCCO-TV in
Minnesota. To view
Wednesday, August 11, 2004
Equal Benefits For Singles
A story posted on the
website of WCCO-TV in Minneapolis (and broadcast last night on its news
show) reports that in the 1950s,
80 percent of America was married. Now, barely 50 percent of America is
Unmarried America is on the rise. Single people are looking for respect,
and for the benefits they say married people get every day.
“Being single, I don’t feel like a second class citizen. I feel like an
ignored citizen,” said Craig Berdan, a single American.
Single Americans are becoming the new not-so-silent majority. They are 86
million strong. They are unwed, and unhappy about not getting a piece of
the financial pie that married couples seem to enjoy.
“Our society is geared to thinking of married couples,” Berdan said. “TV
is about finding a mate, movies are about finding a mate. Everything is
about finding a mate and being with somebody.”
Berdan, 39, is a member of “Unmarried America,” a national organization
fighting for the rights of single adults.
“As a single driver, I pay a higher premium in some states than a married
person would,” said Berdan.
The unmarried are united on other issues, from apartment digs to the
grave. Singles are challenging zoning laws that limit the number of
unrelated people who can live together.
Pensions come with big penalties for singles. If a married worker dies
before starting to receive the benefits, a surviving spouse can inherit
them. For singles, they go back into the pot.
“Just being a couple, it doesn’t seem to me that in itself entitles you to
special benefits,” said Carol Tauer, 70. She too is single, and a member
of “Unmarried America.”
The fight for single’s rights isn’t reserved for just the young.
“I can see there are some things about Social Security, there are things
about the tax code particularly that treat single people differently than
married people,” Carol said.
For example, singles call the “marriage penalty tax” a misnomer. They said
it’s hardly a penalty.
For slightly more than half of all spouses, marriage actually slashes tax
bills, according to a study at the University of California, Fresno.
The workplace is also a problem, according to “Unmarried America.” The
group says single people wind up making an average of 25 percent less than
married colleagues because of health care, retirement and benefits.
Ultimately, however, it may be the general lack of status afforded to
unmarried people that amounts to their greatest gripe.
President Bush calls marriage the “most fundamental institution of
But, singles such as Carol, say they don’t want special favors. They just
want to be treated equally.
“It just seems it would be more fair if people were treated as individuals
with special benefits to go to children and people who are raising them,”
Some things are changing in favor of “Unmarried America.” Some Fortune 500
companies let single employees add household members to family benefit
plans, even if they are not related