Column One:
Eye on Unmarried America

April 24,  2006  



More reactions to previous Column One commentaries

Below are letters from readers sharing their reactions to issues which have been raised in this column.  The date and name of the column are in bold (with hyperlink to the commentary) and the readers comments follow.  Send us your comments on a particular column and we will consider publishing them.


December 19, 2005
Military singles deserve better treatment

This is a great article, I spent four years in the Marines and I experience the same treatment.  I am currently writing a book that will teach recruits what to expect before enlisting, what to look for.  I plan on covering steps they need to cover while in the fleet.  I will guide them step by step on how to prepare for a successful exit from the military regardless of doing four years or twenty years.


December 19, 2005
Military singles deserve better treatment

I just saw the Unmarried America feature on Anderson Cooper 360, so I decided to check out your website.  I read the article on single service members, and I couldnít agree with it more.  I have been a Marine for 6 Ĺ years. 

I am a sergeant, and because I am not married, I live in the barracks.  Every few years there are measures taken to improve the barracks, such as removing the lead-based paint and asbestos, or putting in new furniture.  But it comes across as just enough to shut us up.  Itís like we are supposed to be grateful that someone cares enough to make the barracks safe for human occupation.  The way I see it, my 6 Ĺ years of military service donít matter.  Itís like I donít make a sacrifice because Iím not trying to raise a family at the same time. 

I am currently deployed with the 22nd Marine Expeditionary Unit, on board the USS Nassau.  As it was stated in the article, the living conditions are cramped.  In a space the size of my barracks room at Cherry Point, there are 32 guys living in the berthing, although there are about 150 of us in the whole berthing.  We share 8 toilets, 5 urinals, and 5 showers the size of refrigerators.  Of course, for the Marines, all enlisted personnel share these living conditions, married or not.  Weíre only on this ship for a short time. 

What annoys me is that the married Marines and Sailors are getting FSA (family separation allowance), about $250 a month.  Iíve been separated from my family for the last 6 Ĺ years and I havenít seen an extra dime.  Iíve always thought that single service members should get some kind of compensation for the conditions we endure for not being married.  The mess hall food is like school cafeteria food, only lower quality.  The beef comes in containers marked Ďfor military or prison use only.í  Iíve gotten food poisoning more than once from spoiled fruit.  I have no control over the heat or air conditioning in my barracks room, away from the low, medium, or high setting.  The air conditioning unit and heaters are turned on at a set time each year, depending on the season. 

What I hate the most is that I am not supposed to work on my truck in the parking lot of the barracks.  Iím supposed to go to the Auto Hobby Shop and pay them $2 to let me use a spot there.  But a married person can have a garage full of tools and equipment to do whatever he wants.  It doesnít seem fair to me that with as long as Iíve been in the military, a private who just came out of boot camp can have a house and a dog and a yard of his own because heís married. 

What this causes is known as a contract marriage.  Two service members of opposite sex get married just to get the benefits such as housing allowance, even though they care nothing about each other.  The thought has crossed my mind more than once.  Iíve had more than one offer from someone else to do it.  But marriage is a sacred thing to me.  My parents were never married.  They had my older sister and I, then went their separate ways, got married to other people, had more kids, then got divorced.  My mom is married again, and my dad is a 50-year-old bachelor.  I want to get it right when I finally do get married.  So it wonít be while Iím on active duty. 

I think single service members should get a convenience bonus.  When we deploy, we donít have to make sure our families are taken care of, because we donít have families.  We donít have to worry about house leases, because we live in the barracks.  We just pack our gear and get on the plane (or boat, in my case).  If it were not for the family readiness programs and child care centers on base, the government could save a lot of money.  Money that could in turn go toward making the barracks a better place to live. 

I understand that barracks life has improved a lot even since Desert Storm.  Iíve seen improvements in the time Iíve served.  The problem is, barracks life is still regulated.  Married Marines donít have to worry about being picked for morning cleanup duties or cleaning the common areas.  Married people donít have to send their guests away when taps is played at night. 

Iím not saying that every married service member is wrong for being married.  But Iím saying that if they want to burden themselves with a family while theyíre in a job that could send them around the globe at a momentís notice, let them do it on their own.  Let them see for themselves that itís not a good idea. 

If a kid joins the military and feels like he has to start a family to feel grown up, let him do it.  I donít feel that need.  Iím almost 25 years old.  Nobody can tell me Iím not grown up.  Iíve been deployed to the other side of the world five times.  In my opinion, that makes me a lot more grown up than an 18-year-old kid who walks down the aisle in his dress blues and says, ďI doĒ to his high school sweetheart.  But yet he makes an extra $1000.00 a month for dragging that poor girl into this lifestyle.  Having more sense than that costs me over $1000.00 every month. 

And I realize that most of it would go right back out towards living expenses, but thatís the point, isnít it?  Itís a better quality of life.  That is why I will be leaving the Marine Corps right where I found it after 8 years.  I am hoping to go to work for a private contractor in Iraq.  Itís not quite a better quality of life, but it is a lot better pay for what I do. 

Anyway, Iím glad to know that Iím not alone in seeing that single service members are being stepped on by the policies for married service members.   Thank you for your time and for your support.

Sgt Tim

December 5, 2005
Many singles not satisfied with work-life balance

I found this article very interesting and quite comforting that I am not the only one experiencing problems as a single person in the workplace. I had an issue at work today where I was advised I should be doing more work and working longer hours because I was single and with out children. I was stunned and amazed. When I told my director, that he was being prejudiced against me he only proceeded to lecture me further on how difficult and how little time parents had. I have documented the incident, discussed it with family and friends and I know it was wrong and I am being treated unfairly... but of course I am afraid to take any action because I don't want to lose my job or get labeled non re-hirable.  Can you advise me? What can I do? What should I do?
This is what I have documented:

Wednesday March 8th 2006

I was advised today, by my Director that he expected me to work more hours and take on more responsibility because I was single and did not have children. I advised him that I had animals and was a home owner with responsibilities outside of work I also advised him he was being prejudiced. I actually said we are getting into bad territory here. He just proceeded to lecture me on what it was like to have kids and have to go to their sporting events and their recitals, etc. He advised that because I did not have kids I had more time to work, and I also had less stress.  He advised me that my animals were living beings, but not children. He said he didnít care if I went home to take care of them, that I could be in the office the core hours, go home and care for my animals, and then begin to work again. According to him because I donít have children or a spouse I have my evenings free to work.  I was also advised that in regards to my home maintenance I could do that whenever, because once again I did not have children and my time was flexible.  I have never experienced such inequality in my life. I am still in shock and amazement at what I heard today. Nothing I said would enlighten him, he only went on saying more and more how I was young and could dedicate my life to my career because I was not married and did not have children.

December 5, 2005
Many singles not satisfied with work-life balance

I've felt the situation with tax free subsidized health insurance for families has gotten out of hand.  I'm single and have been working over twenty years.  My employer pays approximately $6,000 more per year for family coverage.  I should get a tax free cash benefit equal to this. 

What I don't understand is why this issue of total compensation can't be taken to the supreme court?  We have been getting smaller and smaller cash raises each year, because all the money is going into health insurance.  I am really tired of it.

Has anyone taken this issue on?  It seems like there would be a good legal argument.

Thank you.

November 21, 2005
Gay activists questioning marriage as ultimate goal

I have just discovered this website yesterday, and I just wanted to make note of the commentary about whether or not gay marriage is really the ultimate goal. Of course it would be a major advancement, but clearly, the ultimate goal is equality, period, and not just for gays. Doesn't anyone wonder what happens to those whose partners they are not allowed to visit in the hospital, gay or not? I do, and I feel dreadful.
Also, I do not understand why so many married heterosexuals think it is such a riot or a shock that the first married lesbian couple in this country got divorced. Think how many more heterosexuals get divorced. Gays are no different, and if you are against divorce, which one should not be, I think, don't be pointing the finger at gays, again, since many more heterosexuals get divorced.
I love this organization, and am a proud single myself.
Thank you,
A. Hey

November 7, 2005
Unmarried couple fights bias by housing cooperative

Thanks for a great article on November 7th. We had asked our lawyer to reach out to you guys early on to help us with our case and never heard back. We need as much support as possible on this one as it moves forward.
Sad thing is about all this, we didn't want a lawsuit - we just wanted a home.
Andy Jorgensen

© Unmarried America 2006

Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.  Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried America. E-mail: Unmarried America is a nonprofit information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and voters.