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U.S. News Archive
August 01 - August 06, 2000





This page contains news for the period August 01, 2000 through August 06, 2000.


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Sunday, August 6, 2000

AASP working to improve the life of single people

A story published today in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette highlights the American Association for Single People and its role as an advocate for single and unmarried adults in the United States.

The story summarizes some of the economic forms discrimination experienced by unmarried Americans in employment benefits compensation and insurance as well as social discrimination and stigmatization.

To read the full story, click here.


Saturday, August 5, 2000

Clinton vetoes marriage-tax reduction bill

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that President Clinton announced his veto plans today for the Republican-sponsored tax cut for married couples, including those now penalized by higher rates.

In his weekly radio address, Clinton ticked off economic successes of his seven-year administration and said the course he charted "is the right path for America.''

"We can't retreat from this opportunity of a lifetime to keep our economy strong and move our country forward,'' Clinton said.

"That's why I'm vetoing legislation that represents the first installment of a fiscally reckless tax strategy.'' Clinton's veto of the $292 billion, 10-year tax cut is no surprise, since he promised to kill the measure even before the Senate gave final congressional approval to the legislation on July 21.

"On Capitol Hill, the Republican majority has passed a series of expensive tax breaks to drain nearly a trillion dollars from the projected surplus,'' in federal budget coffers, Clinton said.

The veto, which comes between the two political parties' national nominating conventions, is tricky for Democrats.

Many Republicans believe Clinton's veto gives them a winning political issue by demonstrating that with a GOP-controlled
Congress, a Democratic president is the only obstacle to sweeping tax reductions.

At a campaign rally Friday in Akron, Ohio, GOP presidential nominee George W. Bush ridiculed Clinton's decision to veto the bill. "What kind of a tax code is it that discourages marriage?'' he said.


Friday, August 4, 2000

Federal appeals court breathes life back into marital status housing protections

An 11-judge panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has reversed two lower court rulings that authorized so-called "religious" landlords to discriminate against unmarried couples who seek to rent apartments.  As a result, several states and municipal governments in the western region of the nation are now free to protect unmarried couples from housing discrimination by enforcing laws prohibiting marital status discrimination in rental housing.

The case, Thomas v. Anchorage Equal Rights Commission, arose after the Alaska Supreme Court ruled that landlords in the state could not use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate against unmarried couples.  The state court concluded that all commercial businesses must obey laws prohibiting marital status discrimination.

In the wake of that ruling, some landlords filed a lawsuit in federal district court in Alaska seeking an injunction to prohibit the state and the city of Anchorage from enforcing the marital status nondiscrimination laws against them.  They argued that the Free Exercise Clause of the federal constitution protected their right to refuse to rent to people who might commit sins on the rental property.

A federal judge agreed and issued an injunction against the city and the state.  In a 2 to 1 decision, a federal appeals court upheld the injunction.

Both government entities asked the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to grant a rehearing before a larger appellate panel of judges.  The court agreed to grant a rehearing, en banc.

Joined by attorneys general from seven western states and a host of private nonprofit advocacy groups, the city of Anchorage and the state of Alaska argued that the federal court should not have intervened in the first place since the alleged harm to the landlords was merely hypothetical and not real.  No actual tenants were involved.  No investigation had begun. 

The 11-judge panel agreed that the case was merely hypothetical and therefore should not have been allowed to proceed in the first place.

In the opinion it issued today, the court wrote:

"This is a case in search of a controversy. Several landlords mount a First Amendment free exercise of religion and free speech challenge to the Alaska housing laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of marital status. We do not address this constitutional question, however, because this preenforcement challenge presents a threshold issue of justiciability. No prospective tenant has ever complained to the landlords, let alone filed a complaint against them. Neither the Alaska State Commission for Human Rights nor the Anchorage Equal Rights Commission has ever initiated an investigation into the landlords' rental practices or commenced a civil enforcement action or criminal prosecution under the challenged laws. No violation of the laws is on the horizon and no enforcement action or prosecution is either threatened or imminent. Indeed, the principal enforcement agencies had never even heard of these landlords before they filed this action. Simply put, at this stage the dispute is purely hypothetical and the injury is speculative. Whether viewed through the lens of standing or ripeness, resolution of the First Amendment issues is premature. Thus, dismissal of this action is required."

Landlords wishing to discriminate against unmarried couples have lost this battle, but there the fair housing war will go on.

For example, a case involving tenants denied housing by a Michigan landlord continues to be litigated.  More than a year ago, a divided Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the marital status laws in that state protected unmarried couples from housing discrimination.  However, it left open the question as to whether a landlord's religious belief that unmarried cohabitation is sinful would be grounds for the landlord to obtain a "religious freedom" exemption from the state civil rights laws.  The case was sent back to the lower court for further review.

Over the past few months, depositions have been taken of the landlords and the tenants in that case, Baiz v. Hoffius.  In the coming weeks, it is expected that a trial court judge will rule on whether the landlords must obey the law like any other commercial establishment must, or whether they can use their religious beliefs as a legal justification to discriminate.


Thursday, August 3, 2000

Marital status gap a big feature of presidential election

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that the marital status gap is becoming a larger issue than the gender gap in the current race for President of the United States.

George W. Bush is gained ground during the Republican National Convention among the exact voters he's targeting, surging 18 points ahead of Al Gore among independents and 6 points ahead among women, according to a bipartisan poll released Thursday.

The two candidates were virtually tied among both groups at the start of the week in the Voter.com-Battleground poll. Bush has long held a commanding lead among men, now at 21 points.

Bush's advantage includes bigger leads among key groups Democrats very much need such as white women 65 and older and white married working moms, the poll indicated.

Republican Bush leads Democrat Gore 48 percent to 34 percent in the overall presidential race, with Ralph Nader getting 6 percent and Pat Buchanan getting 2 percent. That is essentially the same lead Bush had over Gore on Wednesday in the tracking poll of 1,000 likely voters, and 6 points higher than the initial wave of the tracking poll released Tuesday.

In the latest poll, Bush led Gore 48 percent to 30 percent among independents. And Bush had a 47-41 edge among women, a constituency Gore must have to win.

Bush has double digit leads among white women (51-36), white working married mothers (52-36) and white women 65 and older (53-32). These are groups President Clinton carried in 1996 against Bob Dole.

Gore is losing among married voters, by 34 percentage points among married men and 13 percentage points among married women.

"The marriage gap is as big or bigger than the gender gap,'' Lake said, ``and is becoming a profound feature of this election.''


Wednesday, August 2, 2000

Poor kids with single parents have more behavior problems

A story published today in the Seattle Times reports that young children and adolescents living in low-income households are twice as likely to have serious emotional and behavioral problems than other kids their age, according to a report released yesterday by Washington Kids Count.

The report, entitled "Emotional and Behavioral Problems Among Washington's Children," was based on local analysis of data compiled by the national Urban Institute three years ago.

Kids Count, a public-policy project by the University of Washington, looked at the 2,400 families that were surveyed in Washington.

The study found that in low-income families, one in 14 young children ages 6 to 11 exhibited serious emotional or behavioral problems, compared with one in 22 children living with families with adequate income.

One in 10 adolescents aged 12 to 17 from low-income families showed signs of problems, compared with one in 20 teens in families with adequate income.

The study also showed that adolescents living with single-parent families are twice as likely to have problems. One in nine teens who lived with one parent exhibited behavioral or emotional problems, compared with one in 22 who lived with two-parent households.

Tuesday, August 1, 2000

Couples therapy better than drugs for treating depression for those in relationships

A story published today by Reuters reports that couple therapy is more effective and cheaper than drugs for dealing with depression, according to new research published on Tuesday.

A partner, husband or wife of a depressed person can help their significant other overcome the blues and prevent further attacks better than standard antidepressants.

"The aim of the therapy is to take the focus off the depressed person as the ill patient and to focus on the relationship," Professor Julian Leff, of the Institute of Psychiatry in London, said in an interview.

"The idea is that if the relationship improves and the partner becomes supportive the depressed person is likely to feel much better."

Leff and his team divided 77 couples with one depressed partner into two groups. One group received couple therapy for a year but no drugs. The other group did not have counseling but the depressed person was given

At the end of the year all treatments were stopped and both groups were followed up for a year.

"The couple therapy was in fact better than the standard antidepressant drugs in reducing depression during the year of treatment and this advantage persisted in a second year when neither group received any treatment. So it has a preventive aspect against further attacks of depression," said Leff.

The research published in The British Journal of Psychiatry showed couple therapy was effective regardless of the sex of the depressed patient or the severity of the depression.

Proposed new tax break singles out marrieds

A story published today in the San Francisco Chronicle discusses how both the Republican and Democratic Parties are proposing income tax breaks for married couples, while ignoring the needs of single people.

Jane Bryant Quinn writes:

The Republicans must be the love party. They have voted to cut the income tax only for married people. Singles will just have to lump it.

Sen. William Roth, R-Del., says the tax cut was aimed at ``families.''

Hmmm. He can't mean the cost of children. This bill cuts taxes for all married couples, even if they have no kids. And there's zero tax saving for singles, no matter how many kids they have.

Even if you turn away from unmarried mothers, is there something wrong with families headed by widows, widowers and the divorced?

And how about childless singles? Are they less deserving than childless couples? Singles, on average, have lower incomes than couples do.

So it must be love that Congress is promoting now, and only love of the currently married kind.

Married people already pay less tax than a single would, on the same amount of income. The proposed new law would favor marrieds even more.

To read the full article, click here.


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