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U.S. News Archive
June 14 - June 20, 2000





This page contains news for the period June 14, 2000 through June 20, 2000.


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Tuesday, June 20, 2000

Students at Brigham Young University feel the pressure to marry

A story published today in The Daily Universe, a campus newspaper at Brigham Young University, reports that the majority of the school's students are single and many are feeling pressured to marry.

According to statistics gathered by the Applied Technology Services, a total of 29,598 daytime students, ages 18-26, were enrolled at BYU for the Winter 2000 Semester.

While 78.5 percent of students were single, only 21.5 percent of students were married.

Cynthia Doxey, an LDS Marriage and Family professor on campus, said many students in her classes have experienced or recognize the pressure at BYU to get married.

Some students feel they need to get married while at BYU or they will never have another chance, she said.

The story focused on Ryan Rowan, 23 a junior from Lindon, majoring in Spanish who said he feels some pressure as a student at BYU to get married.

With friends all around him getting married and bishops in BYU student wards always mentioning marriage, there can be some pressure, Rowan said.

Rowan also said an obvious age stereotype exists at BYU when it comes to marriage. "If you get to a certain age (and you're not married)," said Rowan, "you're considered to be not doing the right thing.

"Sometimes people think you've got some kind of social problem or you're stereotyped as too picky," Rowan said.

Doxey said while she thinks pressure to get married at BYU exists, she doesn't think it is the BYU culture that puts the pressure on when someone is single.

"I think there's a little bit of pressure we place on ourselves," Doxey said.

In her LDS Marriage and Family class, Doxey said they discuss both the inside and outside pressure students feel about the need to marry.

Doxey said inside pressure includes ideas like "Time is marching on...I'm graduating in April, this is my last chance. I'd better take the first one that comes along."

Outside pressures include the reality that everyone around you is getting married or having people ask why you're not married, Doxey said.

Doxey said students should not feel bad about themselves if they're not married and they shouldn't feel the pressure to marry the first person that comes along.

Doxey said she is older and single, but she knows life will move on.

"If I were to say to someone who thinks they need to get married before they leave BYU, I'd say 'No you don't, because life is a lot more than this,'" Doxey said.


Monday, June 19, 2000

U.S. Supreme Court considers right of divorcees to name insurance beneficiary

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the United States Supreme Court agreed Monday to clarify whether state law can override many people's decisions on who will receive their life insurance and pension benefits after they die.

The court announced that it will hear a Washington state woman's argument that she is entitled to the life insurance and pension benefits of her ex-husband, who died in an accident shortly after they were divorced. His children from a previous marriage say they should receive the benefits.

Donna Rae Egelhoff and David A. Egelhoff were married in 1988 in Tacoma, Wash., and were divorced in April 1994. The following June, David Egelhoff was injured in an auto accident, and he died the following month. He died without a will, and Mrs. Egelhoff remained the designated beneficiary under his life insurance and pension plans, which he had received through his employment at Boeing.

His children from a previous marriage, Samantha and David Egelhoff, sued in state court, saying they were entitled to the pension and life insurance benefits. They relied on a state law that said divorce revokes a spouse's designation as beneficiary.

A state judge ruled for Mrs. Egelhoff. The judge said a federal law that governs employee benefit plans, the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, overrode the state law and therefore she remained the beneficiary. But the Washington Supreme Court reversed and said the children were entitled to the benefits because federal law did not pre-empt the Washington law that revoked her status as beneficiary.

In the appeal granted review Monday, Mrs. Egelhoff's lawyers said ERISA aims to protect plan participants and beneficiaries by overriding state laws that would allow someone else to receive pension and life insurance benefits. Lawyers for Egelhoff's two children said that allowing Mrs. Egelhoff to collect the benefits would amount to "unjust enrichment.''

The case is Egelhoff vs. Egelhoff, 99-1529.

New Florida law prodding more couples into premarital counseling

A story published today in the Miami Herald reports that a new state law gives discounts on marriage license fees to couples who participate in premarital counseling. The law seems to be having some effect.

The law offers couples a $32.50 discount on their $88.50 marriage license if they will sit through a crash course on marriage skills before they take their vows.

Florida is the first state in the union to require its citizens to think before they wed. Couples who decline to sit through a four-hour marriage prep course must cool their matrimonial heels for three full days before they can put their marriage license to use in a formal ceremony. It's known informally as the "look before you leap'' law.

In the first five months of this year -- the first full year the law has been in effect -- 446 couples in Broward County and 947 in Miami-Dade County have opted for premarital education. Those totals represent 8 and 9 percent, respectively, of the couples issued marriage licenses in those counties.

The Marriage Preparation and Preservation Act, which took effect last year, is at the vanguard of a national trend: Governments want couples who get married to stay married. They are acting out of concern for the billions spent annually on the economic fallout of divorce -- higher costs for child support collections, for example.

The governor of Arkansas recently declared a "state of marital emergency'' and is considering a tax credit for couples who take a premarital course. Oklahoma has invested $10 million to study ways to trim the divorce rate. Wisconsin is hiring a marriage policy coordinator. Judges in Grand Rapids, Mich., now have the power to refuse to wed couples who have not had counseling. Utah offers a marital skills course in high school. Such a class is required of all Florida high school students under the "look before you leap'' law.

Research suggests, too, that today's singles enter marriages unprepared. Many are children of divorce who lack basic knowledge about the inner workings of a marriage. Some harbor impossibly high expectations for marriage and are all too willing to abandon it at the first hint of discord.

Premarital counseling is a time-honored tradition in the spiritual community. The Roman Catholic Church, in particular, has long required couples to undergo premarital education. Not surprisingly, churches dominate the list of authorized premarital course providers -- with psychologists, new-age therapists and agencies such as PAIRS rounding out the group.

By current projections, roughly 45 percent of marriages that begin today will end before either spouse dies. That's down from a high of more than 50 percent in the early 1980s, according to a study released this month by Rutgers University researchers.


Thursday, June 18, 2000

24 million American children don't live with their biological fathers

A story published today by the Tribune Review reports that roughly a third of American children will say goodbye to their fathers after wishing them a Happy Father's Day.

Due largely to high divorce rates (40 percent of first marriages end in divorce) and the number of out-of-wedlock births (one-third of total births), an estimated 24.7 million American children do not live with their biological fathers.

Despite this fact, many single and custodial fathers are becoming sole providers for the physical and emotional needs of their children, even if on a part-time basis.

Research suggests that the costs of fatherless ness are high. According to the National Center for Fathering, children with little or no contact with their fathers are more likely to drop out of school and become involved in drug and alcohol abuse, girls are more likely to become pregnant as teens, and boys are more likely to become involved in crime and violence.

"Growing up without an involved father gives a child a 400 percent greater chance of being involved in crime, promiscuity, drugs and alcohol," says Kevin Sheahen, president of the Greater Pittsburgh Chapter of the National Congress of Fathers and Children.

Other statistics to consider:

  • The percentage of children living with both parents declined from 77 percent in 1980 to 68 percent in 1996 and has remained stable since.
  • In 1998, almost one-fourth of children lived with only their mothers. Only 4 percent lived with only their fathers, and 4 percent lived with neither of their parents.
  • Four out of ten of cohabiting couples have children present, and of children born to cohabitating couples, only four out of 10 will see their parents marry. Those who do experience a 50 percent higher divorce rate.
  • More than one million children each year experience the divorce of their parents.

Saturday, June 17, 2000

Most Nevadans oppose same-sex marriage

A story published today in the Las Vegas Review Journal reports that more than 60 percent of Nevadans favor an initiative petition that calls for the state to recognize only marriages between men and women, a poll for the Review-Journal and lasvegas.com shows.

The poll by Mason-Dixon Polling & Research Inc. found that 61 percent of those surveyed back the Coalition for the Protection of Marriage's petition that would prohibit the recognition of gay and lesbian unions. Thirty percent said they oppose the petition, while 9 percent were undecided.

The survey was conducted by telephone interviews with 637 likely voters across the state from Monday to Thursday. The results have a 4 percentage point margin of error.

On Thursday a group known as the Coalition to Protect Marriage turned petitions in to the Secretary of State signed by 121,499 people, or almost three times the required 44,009 signatures. Once the signatures are certified, a measure will go on the ballot to place a clause in the Nevada Constitution restricting marriage to one man and one woman.

To change the state constitution, the proposal must pass in November and again in 2002.


Friday, June 16, 2000

New study profiles single dads

A story published today by Reuters Health reports that new research suggests that single dads are often poorer and less educated than married fathers are.

"Single fathers raising children are worse off economically than married fathers," said Dr. Brett V. Brown, senior research associate at Child Trends, Inc. in Washington, DC. "They are: (1) less educated; (2) twice as likely to be poor; (and) (3) much more likely to be receiving some form of public assistance, especially the Earned Income Tax Credit (EITC)," he explained.

Child Trends is a nonprofit, nonpartisan research organization that studies children and families.

Using data from the March 1997 Current Population Survey, Brown performed an analysis of "the single-father family." He compared cohabiting and non-cohabiting single fathers to "fathers in married-couple families," paying particular attention to their receipt of public transfer-EITC, food stamps, public assistance, etc.

One unexpected finding, Brown admitted, was that "an increasing proportion of single-father families are not as single as the term implies. About 25% of single fathers are cohabiting with an unmarried female partner (who may or may not be the mother of his children)," he stated.

Furthermore, "about one quarter of all non-cohabiting single fathers have never been married, suggesting that a significant number of never-married fathers are willing to take primary responsibility for raising their children," Brown speculated.

Other findings from the report, published in Marriage and Family Review, show that single fathers are "less educated and have lower incomes than married fathers," Brown writes. "Between 1984 and 1996, the percentage of married fathers who completed more than 12 years of education increased from 46% to 56% while rates for single fathers were unchanged (about 40% for non-cohabiting single fathers and 27% for cohabiting single fathers)," he stated. "Similarly, household income increased by 19% for married fathers but was stagnant for single fathers."

Brown also noted that single-fathers were more likely than married fathers were to need or depend on some form of public transfer. For example, in 1997, 46% of non-cohabiting single fathers and 64% of cohabiting single fathers, were eligible to receive EITC benefits-tax-breaks for low wage workers--in contrast to only 15% of married fathers, he noted.

"The children growing up in single-father families are finding themselves increasingly financially disadvantaged relative to children in two-parent families," Brown writes, "though their resources remain high relative to single-mother families." Yet, "we know quite a lot about how single-mother families function, but relatively little about how single fathers parent and interact with their children," he commented.

Additional research on single fathers is needed, specifically concerning their "parenting practices and styles in families," Brown suggests. "Single-father families are becoming more common than in the past," he concluded. "We need to make a place for them and their children in our culture, and in our social policies."

New poll shows that married voters strongly support Bush, but singles only mildly support Gore

A story published today in the Los Angeles Times reports that a new poll shows that George Bush is currently leading Al Gore by 10 percentage points.

Married voters are largely backing Bush. Singles, on the other hand, are not backing Gore in the large numbers they did in the past for Bill Clinton.

Overall, the survey found Bush maintaining a commanding 10-percentage-point lead over presumptive Democratic nominee Al Gore in the presidential race.

The Times Poll, supervised by polling director Susan Pinkus, surveyed 1,686 registered voters from June 8 through 13. It has a margin of sampling error of plus or minus three percentage points.

In the new poll, Bush is attracting support from more than 9 in 10 Republicans, while only about 7 in 10 Democrats say they are backing Gore. Bush is winning 18% of Democrats--triple the 6% of Republicans supporting Gore.

The vice president still faces a significant challenge with independent voters, who prefer Bush in the new survey by a solid 53% to 32%. Bush is strong not only among independents who consider themselves conservatives (where he leads by 55 points), but also among moderate independents (who break evenly between him and Gore).

The survey finds the nation lining up behind the candidates along familiar demographic and social lines. But Bush is generally doing better among the traditionally Republican-leaning groups than Gore is with the groups that usually support Democrats.

Economic gap

Gore runs even among voters earning $40,000 a year or less. But Bush leads by 15 points among those earning more.

Gender gap

Gore is more competitive among women than men--but now trails among both groups. Though women preferred Clinton by 16 percentage points in 1996, the Times survey now shows Bush leading among female voters by 46% to 43%. Bush leads among all men by 16 percentage points; white men prefer the Texas governor by a daunting 22 points.

Martial status gap

Married voters, who tend to be more economically secure and socially conservative, give Bush a 19-point lead; Gore leads by only nine points among singles, historically a more Democratic group.

Kids' skills hurt when mom works outside the home

A story published today by UPI reports that new research suggests that mothers who work outside the home may hurt the cognitive development of their young children by being absent.

University of North Carolina at Greensboro labor economist Dr. Christopher Ruhm said that three- and four-year-olds tend to have lower verbal abilities if their mothers worked during the child's first year.

Ruhm said an increasing percentage of single or married women with children under age 6 are working. "These changes suggest that parents have less time to invest in raising their children, with potentially harmful effects," Ruhm said.

His research, based on a survey of more than 4,000 American children, found that children of mothers who enter the workforce before their child reaches age 3 appear to have weaker verbal, reading and mathematics skills than the children of mothers who stay at home.

The study, published in the Working Paper Series of the National Bureau of Economic Research, found that children whose mothers worked during their first year had lower verbal abilities at ages 3 and 4.

U.S. Census data indicates that, in 1996, 55 percent of single females and 63 percent of married females with children under age 6 were working.


Thursday, June 15, 2000

Bush advocates sexual abstinence for singles

A story published today by the Daily Texan, the campus newspaper of the University of Texas at Austin, reports that the administration of Governor George Bush is funding 31 Texas programs to teach sexual abstinence instead of birth control.

"For Texas children to realize their dreams, they must learn the value of abstinence," Bush said. "We must stress that abstinence isn't just about saying no to sex; it's about saying yes to a happier, healthier future."

The funding may not be used to discuss birth control, except for the failure rates of contraceptives.

The money comes to the states from a federal program established by Congress. Under that law, the U.S. Department of Health will allot funding to each state which teaches "that a mutually faithful monogamous relationship in context of marriage is the expected standard of human sexual activity and that sexual activity outside the context of marriage is likely to have harmful psychological and physical effects."


Wednesday, June 14, 2000

Single dads who remain involved with kids are honored

A story published today in the Beacon Journal reports that even though Summit County Prosecutor Michael T. Callahan is accustomed to announcing periodic crackdowns on parents -- most of them fathers -- who fail to provide financial and other support for their children, he is making an about-face on the cusp of Father's Day this Sunday.

Rather than targeting "deadbeat dads,'' Callahan will honor 48 non-custodial fathers for the active roles they have taken in their children's lives, including keeping up with child support payments. The first Father's Day recognition ceremony will include not only the honorees but also their children, who helped the mothers nominate the fathers for the awards.

Callahan, director of the Child Support Enforcement Agency, said the recognition is overdue, and the need for it occurred to him because "we collected over $84 million in child support for children in Summit County last year, a record.''


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