Thursday, April 20, 2000
A story published today by the Associated
Press reports that Mississippi lawmakers voted Wednesday to ban gay couples from adopting,
becoming the second state in 2000 to try to keep homosexuals from becoming parents despite
Mississippi Legislature approves homosexual adoption ban
Until this year, only Florida had a law forbidding homosexual
couples from adopting. Utah's Legislature approved a ban this spring and policy makers in
other states are debating the issue, fueled by recognition of gay unions in Vermont.
The debate in Mississippi pitted religious denominations against
each other, when the state's top Episcopal leader urged the defeat of the ban. Baptists
and Methodists pressed ahead with a lobbying effort for the bill. The Senate passed the
ban Wednesday without debate and without opposition. The House had given approval earlier,
and Gov. Ronnie Musgrove has already said he will sign the bill.
"Morally, we did the right thing,'' said Sen. David Jordan,
D-Greenwood. Sen. Ron Farris, R-Hattiesburg, said sodomy is a crime in Mississippi.
"A homosexual relationship implies the exercise of illegal activities and no child
should be permitted to enter that type of setting,'' Farris said.
The bill, which takes effect July 1, said
"adoption by couples of the same gender is prohibited.''
Wednesday, April 19, 2000
A story published today by the Indiana Daily
Student reports that more college students than ever before are cohabiting outside of
Indiana college couples try sharing rent before sharing vows
When most students' parents were born, living together was a social
taboo. In 1960, there were about 400,000 unmarried couple households, but now the number
has soared to more than four million according to the U.S. Census Bureau.
This year, Haverford College in Pennsylvania will join two other
East Coast colleges or universities allowing men and women to share dormitory rooms. A
social stigma no longer, cohabitation is on the rise and proving to be a fantasy for some
couples and a nightmare for others.
Some sociologists regard unmarried cohabitation as a modern day
"courtship ritual," said Patricia McManus, an assistant professor of sociology.
"Overwhelmingly, most people are still getting married;
however, there is a slight drop in the proportion of people relative to the '50s and
'60s," she said.
Mark Erdosy, a pastoral associate at St. Paul's Catholic Church,
said most cohabiting couples coming for marriage preparation at St. Paul's initially say
they moved in for financial reasons.
"For the most part cohabiting couples are saving one person's
monthly rent, but it's almost like they are mortgaging the long term for short-term
gain," Erdosy said.
He said during the rite of marriage, when the priest asks the
couple, "Have you come here freely and without reservation to give yourselves to each
other in marriage?" they cannot answer a 100 percent "yes" because they are
financially dependent on each other.
Other couples said it was "the next logical step" or they
were just going to test it out.
While Erdosy said he does not think cohabitation is a good idea,
Carol McCord, assistant dean of the office for women's affairs and clinician at the Kinsey
Institute, supports the practice of cohabitation. McCord said cohabitation is a time to
agree and negotiate if living together works.
She said cohabitation is an important step in choosing a mate.
"It's a really healthy way of practicing the skills of daily
living and a further step toward adulthood than living with a couple of buddies," she
said. "Some women want to see if a partner is going to be equally supportive. Getting
married solely because you want to have sex is not a good reason."
A 1995 study by Bumpass and Sweet, in a Web site associated with the
National Conference of Catholic Bishops, found 50 percent of marriages preceded by
cohabitation ended in divorce. High divorce rates can partly be explained by changing
attitudes within society, Erdosy said.
"The whole institution of marriage is changing," he said.
"In my unscientific perspective, long-term no longer means a lifetime. Our society's
individualistic nature makes us more focused on 'my needs, my wants, me, me, me' and
marriage needs to be 'we' focused."
McManus said high divorce rates can be explained by the individuals
who, regardless of cohabitation, are already prone to divorce because of their attitude
toward commitment and marriage.
People more likely to cohabit are often children of divorce, are
divorced themselves or do not have religion playing a serious role in their lives, McManus
Tuesday, April 18, 2000
Jesse Ventura vetoes
A story published today by the Star Tribune
reports that Minnesota Governor Jesse Ventura has vetoed a bill which would have lowed the
marriage license fee for married couples who participate in pre-marital counseling.
The bill would have raised the marriage license fee to $75, but
would have provided a $50 reduction to couples who took 12 hours of premarital education.
Wedded to relationship but not
A story published today by USA Today reports
that living together without a marriage license tends to be a transitory stage for
heterosexual couples. Within about 18 months, most couples either wed or break up.
Only about one-sixth of live-ins last at least three years, and only
one-tenth endure five years or more, according to University of Michigan sociologist
The story says that Janna Cordeiro and Stephan Toomey fall into the
one-tenth category, couples who stay together for the long term. They are among many who
think the experts who criticize cohabitation as a social evil are off-base.
The couple fell in love in college 10 years ago and elected to
forsake assigned housing with its unpredictable roommates and to live "with someone
we love," says Toomey, 30, of Atlanta. But over time they made a conscious decision
to stay together and not marry.
"We did not take it for granted that we would still be able to
make each other happy in five years," says Cordeiro, also 30. "We assumed that
we might change and grow apart. We decided to check in with each other on a regular basis
and re-evaluate." At first it was about every six months, because she felt too young
to make a longer commitment.
Toomey, a graduate student at Georgia Institute of Technology,
notes: "For the first four or five years, we were very careful not to talk about
plans years head. We were careful to give each other our own space, to not be dependent on
each other for ultimate happiness."
The couple say they do not need wedding vows to cement a union.
"We didn't want a relationship based on some false sense of security," says
Cordeiro, who works as an AIDS researcher with a consulting firm. "Our relationship
is about getting up and treating each other each day with respect and love. I don't need a
marriage license to give me that."
They have, she says, "built a life together. It is a cop-out to
say that living together makes it easier if we want to leave. It would still be hard, but
in a way that would not involve a judge or court system."
They have talked through the basic issues. "I never wanted to
fight with him about money," Cordeiro says. "It is not worth it. We have
separate checkbooks. We split everything 50-50. In the beginning, though, we had different
ideas about money. I worry about it; he doesn't."
Cordeiro does not believe cohabiting will weaken their relationship.
Marriage is no guarantee of longevity, she says. "I've seen a lot of people get
divorced. Some divorces are amicable, and others are really messy."
The "marriage industry" infuriates her. A friend's father
"just spent $40,000 on her wedding. That just takes the focus off the spiritual and
legal bond of marriage."
The couple are coming up on their 10th anniversary. They are
planning lifestyle changes, including having a baby and moving to San Francisco. But they
will not be looking for a justice of the peace. "We will get the paperwork done if we
have a child, to protect his or her legal rights. But I am not concerned about any stigma.
The most important thing is the child is loved, not whether we have a license."
New York state budget would
eliminate 'marriage penalty' in tax law
A story published today by the Associated
Press reports that a deal struck by legislative leaders and the governor would eliminate
the so-called "marriage penalty" in New York's state income tax laws.
This would be accomplished by increasing the standard deduction on
state income taxes from $13,000 to $15,000. That change will save typical married couples
about $140 a year and bring their tax bill into line with what two unmarried adults living
together would pay.
The state estimates that married taxpayers would save $200 million
when the plan is phased in over five years.
Saturday, April 15, 2000
Commentary: open adoption
records are not a good idea
A commentary by Mike McManus published today
in the Spokesman Review criticizes laws that open up adoption records to adoptees for
The commentary asks "Should adoption records should be open, so
an adopted child can obtain the name of its birth mother or a birth mother could have
access to her child after relinquishing it for adoption?"
After reviewing the results of open-adoption laws, McManus says the
process is not good.
Although TV talk shows regularly feature stories of adopted children
who as adults seek their birth mother and are happily reunited, McManus says that there is
a reality not given attention by Oprah.
McManus explains that when most women agreed to relinquish a child
for adoption, they were promised confidentiality -- and sealed adoption records. A birth
mother wants her privacy protected, so that a future husband and family might not learn
that she had given birth out of wedlock. Similarly, adoptive parents would not want a
child they are rearing to meet its "real mother," which would only be confusing.
Yet, he says, the Clinton Administration introduced the Model State
Adoption Act in Congress in 1998 seeking to mandate "open adoption." Rep. James
Oberstar, D-Minn., an adoptive father himself, opposed it, noting, "After Great
Britain changed its adoption laws in 1975 to allow adopted individuals to view their
unamended birth certificates, a significant decline took place in the number of children
placed for adoption."
How significant? There was a 93 percent plunge in adoption after
adoption privacy was eliminated. The adoptions of infant children fell from 4,548 in 1975
to 322 in 1995.
Had such a bill been passed by the United States in 1975, we would
have had only 1,610 infant adoptions, not 23,537. The remaining 22,000 U.S. babies would
have either been parented by unmarried single women or aborted.