This page contains news for
the period Sunday, August 23, 1999 through Tuesday, August 31, 1999.
August 1999 >>
Monday, August 30, 1999
today's tax world, it pays to be married
Despite all the fuss about
the "marriage penalty" where two working people may pay more in taxes as a
married couple than they would as two singles, the truth is, this only applies to a
portion of married taxpayers. In general, singles pay more taxes than married couples on
the same income. Congress has a $792 billion tax-cut proposal that could worsen the
situation for single people.
X Homes In
The August 1999 issue of Demographics Magazine discusses
the home buying trends of the most recent generation of young adults. In 1998, the
homeownership rate among unmarried Gen X households, for example, was 23.2 percent,
according to the Census Bureau. The rates of their boomer counterparts, on the other hand,
have never hit higher than 21.4 percent.
The article says that more than half of all Xers age 30
to 31 and 36 percent of those 25 to 29 already own their own homes. Marriage is not a
prerequisite to homeownership for Gen X. Some 18.4 percent of single female householders
age 25 to 29 own their own homes, according to the Census Bureau -- a jump of 4 full
percentage points over the last ten years. For single males in the same age group, the
homeownership rate increased more than 6 percentage points, to 39.1 percent.
Saturday, August 28, 1999
Unmarried Couples Out as Foster Parents in
According to a report in the Salt Lake Tribune, Utah has
adopted a formal policy prohibiting unmarried couples from being foster parents. In fact,
the new policy is so broad that it prohibits placing a foster child in a home if the
foster parent also has any unrelated adult living there.
The new rules were adopted in a 5-to-2 vote by the board of
trustees of the Division of Child and Family Services (DCFS).
Bans of this nature have been opposed by the Child Welfare
League of America, the American Bar Association and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Questions were raised -- but not answered -- at the
boards meeting. How, for example, would the policy apply to couples in common-law
marriages (together more than seven years)? No one was able to offer a definitive answer.
What of a case in which a renter, unrelated by blood, lives in the home of a foster or
adoptive parent? Or, even closer to home, what if that renter is a Mormon missionary?
Would that living arrangement violate the new policy if the homeowners wanted to take in
"When I was on a Mormon mission I rented a room in a
private home," one commissioner said. "You can see where we run into
The married-only policy is so strongly opposed by the Child
Welfare League that the association recently sent DCFS Director Ken Patterson a letter
asking its endorsement be removed from the agencys policy manual. The board swiftly
accommodated that request, voting to remove the phrase that refers to DCFS policy as
"in accordance with the standards of the Child Welfare League of America."
Housing Suit Filed Against Fargo Landlord
Who Won't Rent to Unmarried Couples
According to a report today in The Forum, the Fair Housing
Council of North Dakota has filed a lawsuit against a Fargo couple who own rental
property, accusing them of discriminating against unmarried couples who live together.
The landlords own seven rental houses and duplexes in north
Fargo and wont rent to unmarried couples, according to the lawsuit filed in Cass
County District Court by the Bismarck-based nonprofit organization.
The landlords said Friday they rent to single people, but not
to unmarried couples. They claimed that rejecting unmarried couples as tenants is
justified because of a state criminal law that prohibits cohabitation.
Bismarck lawyer Edwin Dyer III, who is representing the
housing group, said the cohabitation law Peterson cites prohibits unmarried couples who
live together from representing themselves as a married couple. The housing council
contends the law doesnt prohibit cohabitation in and of itself, and its lawsuit
against the landlords will resolve the legal dispute, Dyer said.
The housing council received four complaints from Fargo
renters since 1997 who said these landlords would not rent to unmarried couples.
The North Dakota Human Rights Act prohibits discrimination
based on marital status, according to the housing council.
The plaintiffs ask for compensation, punitive damages and
attorney fees, along with an injunction ordering the landlords to stop any rental
practices found to be illegal.
Thursday, August 26, 1999
LA Considers Proposal to Make City
Contractors Offer DP Benefits
According to a report in Frontiers News Magazine, Los Angeles
City Councilwoman Jackie Goldberg has introduced a motion to expand the city contractor
nondiscrimination law to include "domestic partnerships."
The measure would require that all companies doing more than
$5,000 worth of business with the city offer their unmarried employees domestic partners
benefits comparable to those they offer to married spouses.
The proposal, which would be patterned after San Francisco's
Equal Benefits Ordinance and would apply to same-sex and opposite-sex couples, was heard
in a council committee on Aug. 16. At the meeting, Goldberg and Councilman Mike Feuer
directed city staff to review a report on the first two years of the San Francisco policy
and return in September with a detailed proposal for Los Angeles.
To qualify under Goldbergs preliminary proposal,
domestic partners would have to be registered with Los Angeles county.
In the current benefits program for city employees, only
about 3 percent of Los Angeles city workers, the majority of whom are heterosexual, take
advantage of the benefits. The citys cost for benefits has increased less than 1.5
percent since the policy began.
Court upholds rule requiring unmarried or
divorced parents to pay for childs college education
According to an Associated Press story, the Missouri Supreme
Court has upheld the constitutionality of a law allowing judges to require unmarried or
divorced parents to pay child support and educational expenses for their children until
they graduate from college or turn 22.
A divorced father, Steven Snodgrass, appealed a circuit court
ruling by arguing that the law requiring child support awards for college expenses
violates state and federal equal protection laws. Snodgrass argued that it was unfair to
require unmarried, divorced or legally separated parents to pay educational costs when
married couples do not have the same obligation. The court rejected his argument, stating
there was "no authority," for the fathers claim. The court accepted the
mothers argument that the state has a legitimate interest in securing higher
education opportunities for children of broken homes."
issue ends for victims
Victim Compensation Law
Living together unmarried is a misdemeanor in North
Carolina, but it no longer disqualifies anyone from obtaining money from the states
Crime Victims Compensation Commission.
Under a new law, the commission will not automatically
deny applications for awards from victims or their relatives solely because the victims
lived out of wedlock with the people who committed the crime.
In more than 100 cases since 1994, the commission
rejected claims for awards from victims whose only crime was living with the people who
assaulted, robbed or even murdered them. It is a crime in North Carolina for a man and
woman to live as husband and wife without a marriage license. That law does not apply to
same-sex couples. (News-Observer, Aug. 26, 1999)
Tuesday, August 24, 1999
Benefit Built for Two: Several Assumptions About Domestic Partner Benefits Are Proving
An excellent article in the August issue of Human
Resource Magazine discusses various issues about domestic partnership benefits: how and
why they began, facts are proving the fears of employers to be false, cost, definitions,
and industry trends. There are also several side-bar articles which discuss legal and
legislative updates and summaries of news articles.
Unmarried bliss can be just as rewarding,
By Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller
Our fulfilling lives were interrupted by a shrill warning
from Heritage Foundation intern Stacey Felzenberg. In her column Wednesday about marriage,
she says were making a big mistake ("Why Generation X is beginning to embrace
Because weve chosen not to get married, she predicts
were going to be poor, sickly and unhappy.
Way back when she was a college freshman, Felzenberg says
that like us, she didnt want to get married. But now -- two? three? years later --
with a superficial review of the research under her belt and a superior smirk on her face,
Felzenberg cant wait for her day at the altar.
She points to research that says married people are healthier
than unmarried ones, and those whove tied the knot make more money than those who
Its clear Felzenberg needs to put in some more hours in
the library. The truth is, the research about marital status paints a more complex story
than the one Felzenberg has sketched.
She seems to have missed the article by Catherine Ross of
Ohio State University, who studied 2,031 adults and found it is living with a partner --
not necessarily being married to that partner -- that results in higher levels of
In fact, Ross found unmarried couples report higher levels of
emotional support than married couples.
Maybe Felzenberg was absent the day the professor talked
about the similar Dutch study that looked at 18,000 adults and found that living with
another person is just as good for your health as marriage is.
Perhaps the Heritage Foundation doesnt subscribe to the
American Sociological Review. If it did, Felzenberg might have read about how married men
contribute less time to housework than unmarried men who live with their partners. Of
course, if Felzenberg simply enjoys doing housework, she need not be concerned.
She even concludes that not getting married could kill her
faster than smoking. Excuse us? Last we heard, the Centers for Disease Control said
smoking causes more than 419,900 deaths each year in the United States, making it the
leading preventable cause of death.
We havent read a single obituary that lists
"unmarried" as the cause of death. If Felzenberg wants to live to a healthy old
age, kicking her tobacco habit will provide much better insurance than slipping on a
Felzenberg even seems to be oblivious to her own privilege in
asking the question, "Should I get married?" It is downright arrogant to wave
the marriage banner at a time when millions of Americans are not legally allowed to marry
their partners. Same-sex marriage is not legal in any state in the country.
Felzenberg presents a one-size-fits-all prescription for
relationship and family life. The fact is, one size does not fit all.
Some people love living alone, while others thrive in big
families. Some are gifted bedtime story readers and boo-boo kissers, while others adore
the freedom of child-free living. Some women cant wait to become Mrs. Somebody,
while others cringe at the thought.
Trying to push everyone into the marriage box is an old
tactic. Patriarchy was one very effective way to do it: Women didn't have much choice
about getting married when they couldnt work to support themselves.
Some religions added their voice to the cause by labeling
unmarried relationships sinful. More recently, flawed social science research has been put
to the same use in an attempt to convince people that marriage is scientifically
Felzenberg undoubtedly wants to help people to lead better
lives. She needs a strategy more sophisticated than trying to convince everyone to get
Instead, she might try working toward creating a society that
supports and validates the diverse kinds of relationships and families that exist today.
Until then, shed better head back to the books.
Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller are the founders of the
Alternatives to Marriage Project, a national organization for unmarried people.
Arizona Daily Star
Tuesday, 24 August 1999
Monday, August 23, 1999
National Survey Shows Most Adults Say
Unmarried Cohabitation is Okay
According to a Business Wire story released on August 23,
1999, by Business Wire, most adults believe that unmarried cohabitation is acceptable.
More men than women tend to support living together outside of marriage. Young adults
overwhelmingly find that cohabitation is an acceptable way to live.
The "Marriage Survey" was a nationwide telephone
survey of 1,000 adults. It was conducted in July 1999 by TNS Intersearch, the U.S.
headquarters of the UK-based Taylor Nelson Sofres group.
Half of study respondents agreed that its okay for a
man and a woman to live together outside of marriage. But, men were far more supportive of
this idea than women (60% of men agreed with this statement versus 45% of women.
Acceptance of the idea also declined greatly with age (73% among 18-34-year-old versus 19%
among those 65 and older.)
Another issue examined by the survey involved unmarried
parenting. Most Americans (67%) frown on this lifestyle choice.
More information on the Marriage Survey is available from TNS
Intersearch by calling Howard Barich, Sr. Vice President Marketing, at (914) 684-6100 or
e-mailing him at email@example.com.
TNS Intersearch, founded in 1960, is a full-service
international survey firm with 365 full-time employees and is the seventh largest custom
market research company in the U.S. The company is headquartered in Horsham, PA and has
client service offices in major cities throughout the U.S.
An executive summary of the complete survey results is
available upon request.
Worker Sues Religious Day
Connie Rose Buels filed a complaint against a Pentecostal day
care center in Benton Harbor, Michigan after she was fired when her employer learned that
she was living with her fiancÚ.
Michigans civil rights law prohibits marital status
discrimination and the state Supreme Court recently ruled that unmarried couples are
protected by the statute. The Attorney Generals office has sided with Buels,
demanding that the employer pay her for lost wages, mental and physical anguish and
The case is scheduled to be heard in October by a referee,
who will forward a recommendation to the eight_member Michigan Civil Rights Commission.
(Detroit Free Press, August 23, 1999.)