Column One:
Eye on Unmarried America

September 25,  2006  



USA Week a success with the media

By Thomas F. Coleman


Several newspapers, magazines, and radio shows focused on Unmarried America last week.  And rightly so, since it was Unmarried and Single Americans Week. 

Editors, producers, and writers picked up on a press release issued by the Census Bureau which alerted them to USA Week and provided them with demographic facts about unmarried individuals, couples, and families.  This is the third year in a row that the Census Bureau has issued a "Facts for Features" press release like this. 

Most of the media attention was positive and educational. 

CBS Radio commentator Charles Osgood started off the week with a segment devoted to National USA Week.  He rattled off a set of statistics about the current reality of family diversity, showing that he had really done his homework on the subject.

Misadventures in Atlanta, a blog published by the Atlanta Journal Constitution, took note of the increasing number of unmarried Americans. "For those of us who need to celebrate this week, we arenít alone: The 2004 U.S. Census says there are 89 million unmarried Americans who can celebrate with us."

"You don't have to have a partner to be happy."  That's what relationship expert Dr. Phil told KYW News Radio during an interview in Philadelphia at the start of "National Singles Week" as some call the occasion.

That sentiment was echoed by the Herald and Review in Decatur, Illinois.  Sheila Smith, a staff writer for the paper, observed that "more and more people are OK with the idea of flying solo and enjoying the single lifestyle." 

Kristen Coppcock, a columnist for the Burlington County Times in Pennsylvania thought it was about time the nation had a commemorative occasion for single people.

"After all," she wrote, "Married people have their anniversaries, and parents are honored by children and spouses on Mother's Day and Father's Day." "And if we can devote weeks to different charity causes or health issues, why shouldn't we also use our time to celebrate people?"

, a writer for the Roanoke Times, noted that even though unmarried households are now the majority, "family values, whatever those really are, still control the national debate." 

In Ohio, The Flip Side, a segment published in the Columbus Dispatch took a lighter approach, raising its glass "to toast those who havenít blown their savings accounts on weddings (and those who have but now chalk up their mistakes to youthful ignorance)."

Melissa Campbell, a writer for the University of Minnesota Post, lamented the lingering stigma still associated with singleness, despite television shows like Sex in the City which glamorize singles.  "Thereís a difference between watching a single woman on television and being a single woman." she wrote."  "The single woman may be liberated on television and in films, but she is still frowned upon and seen as defective in real life."

Steve Burtt, a writer for the Mississippi Press, said that USA Week was a good time for single people to reflect on what they had done with their lives so far.  Taking his own advice, he reflected that the best thing he had done for himself as a single was to buy his own house.

"But buying a home as a single gave me the assurance that I could have a life without somebody else if that's what I wanted," Burtt wrote.  "It also established me as someone to take seriously when it came time for a relationship."

USA Week was also commemorated visually.  Magnum photographers did a photo essay for Unmarried and Single Americans Week which was published on the website of  The black-and-white images depicted amazing photos of single people living their lives, including a group of three middle-aged women laughing, a man walking alone on a beach, and a solitary figure walking in the rain on a New York street.

Of course, there was the spoiler.  There always seems to be a rotten apple at the bottom of the barrel.

The Daily Herald of Everett Washington, put a damper on the occasion with a sarcastic editorial.

"Gosh, it's already that time of year again - time to celebrate Unmarried and Single Americans Week," the editorial begins.  After criticizing the USA Week website and its suggested ways in which single people can participate in the occasion, the editorial asks "When is Get a Life Week?"

Being the person who put Unmarried and Single Americans Week on the commemorative map, and who convinced the Census Bureau to acknowledge the occasion each year, I must retort: "When is Get a Real Newspaper Week?"

© 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.