Wednesday, September 6, 2000
Kansas community may crack down on unmarried adults loving together
A story published today in Journal-World of Kansas reports that
Lawrence-Douglas County planning commissioners will consider a proposal that would
limit the number of unrelated people allowed to live in Lawrence's single-family
residentially owned neighborhoods.
Two proposed ordinances were referred to the Planning Commission by
Lawrence city commissioners Tuesday.
One of the ordinances was written by city staff and another by
neighborhood advocates who are pushing the change from the current limit of four unrelated
Arly Allen, who has helped organize the effort to change the
ordinance, said some older neighborhoods are losing ground to rental properties. He
offered the draft ordinance and suggested exemptions be allowed for unmarried couples with
Holly Krebs, a Kansas University student, said students are being
unfairly targeted by the ordinance change.
Planners will meet Oct. 25 to consider the alternatives and make a
Tuesday, September 5, 2000
Effect of divorce on kids may last years
A story published today by Reuters reports that a new study released
yesterday suggests that the traumatic effect of divorce
hits many children decades after their parents separate, hobbling them as they seek to
form close family relationships of their own.
"Our findings challenge the
myth that divorce is a transient crisis,'' Judith Wallerstein, a senior lecturer emerita
at the University of California-Berkeley and author of the study, said.
"We now see that the major
hurt is in adulthood, when internalized images of the mother, father and their
relationship come to center stage and shape the choices their grown children make,'' she
Wallerstein's findings are being published in a book, "The Unexpected Legacy of Divorce: a
25 Year Landmark Study'' published by Hyperion of New York and coauthored by Julia Lewis,
a professor of psychology at San Francisco State University, and Sandra Blakeslee, a
science writer for the New York Times.
Her work is based on a study of about 100 San Francisco
Bay-area children that began in 1971, and is believed to be the first research of its kind to follow the children of
divorce into adulthood.
For the 25-year follow-up, Wallerstein also interviewed a
group of 44 children from married-couple families who grew up alongside the children of divorce and attended the same
By comparing the life experiences of the two groups, the
study concludes that parental divorce has a profound and lasting impact on the emotional
lives of children, which is felt most acutely in their own adult relationships.
The children of divorce experienced lives fraught with
pitfalls ranging from fear of loss and disaster to greater use of drugs and alcohol during
youth. They also had fewer marriages, fewer children, and more divorces than the children
from married-couple families whose parents did not divorce.
While most children of divorce do eventually conquer their
difficulties and lead normal lives, they make more mistakes along the way, Wallerstein
The study revealed that, when interviewed as adults, just
60 percent of the children of divorce were married compared to 80 percent of children who
grew up in married-couple families which did not experience a divorce.
About 38 percent of the divorce survivors had children, and
17 percent of them were out of wedlock. By contrast, 61 percent of the individuals in the always-married families group had their
own children, and all of them were in the context of marriage.
The children of divorce were much more likely to marry
before the age of 25 -- half compared with just 11 percent of the comparison group -- and
were also much more likely to get divorced themselves. A full 57 percent of their early
marriages ended in collapse, compared with 25 percent of the early marriages in the
Divorce was also seen having an impact in other areas of
life. Only 29 percent of the children of divorced parents were helped financially by their
fathers in pursuing a higher education, compared to 88 percent of the children from always-married families.
And 25 percent of the children of divorce reported using
drugs and alcohol before age 14, compared with just nine percent of the comparison group.
Monday, September 4, 2000
More resources for schools on diverse
A story published today in the Detroit
News reports that varipous organizations are developing new materials to help teachers
educate students about the diversity of family life in the United States.
The story explains that when Susan Saidman took her then 4-year-old
daughter to preschool three years ago, Saidman told the teacher her child had been
adopted. The teacher's response was, "Well, we will be looking for those
abandonment issues to show up," Saidman says. It was a reference to a stereotype: The
adopted child may be a problem and will suffer lifelong from having been relinquished by
her birth mother.
"That really struck a chord with me,"
Saidman says. "Who was this teacher to psychoanalyze my child? And if she did act
out, why would that be attributed to her having been adopted?"
The incident bothered Saidman enough to help found
the nonprofit group Celebrate Adoption and put together a reader-friendly booklet called
An Educator's Guide to Adoption.
The story notes that Saidman is just one of many
parents and experts concerned about how teachers relate to the children of all types of
nontraditional families, including single parents and stepfamilies.
"The days of the traditional Ozzie and Harriet
family are pretty much done," says Melanie Fox, principal of an elementary school in
Coral Gables, Fla.
"We have 750 children in this school, and the
majority come from homes with at least one divorce." Her school is one of many trying
to smooth the way for school kids from families once seen as different.
The Stepfamily Association of America estimates more
than half of Americans today have been, are or will be in one or more step-situations.
AARP, formerly called the American Association of
Retired Persons, says 1.3 million children are being raised solely by grandparents.
The National Adoption Information Clearinghouse says
there are about 1 million adopted children in the USA. Placements of children from other
countries have soared from about 6,500 in 1992 to 14,000 in 1997.
For the children in these diversified families,
being asked to write a short autobiography, bring baby photos to class or draw a family
tree can be daunting.
If the youngsters are being raised by single
parents, in stepfamilies, by grandparents or other relatives, by foster or adoptive or gay
parents, some family background might be missing, complex or kept totally secret.
The Stepfamily Association has two projects in the
* A stepfamily curriculum developed with Cornell
University is expected by February. "We still live with the concept that DNA
determines a family, rather than who does the nurturing," association president
Margorie Engel says.
* An update of a decade-old course originated by
social worker Wendy Geis-Rockwood. After interviewing 2,000 children and teens, she wrote
Shapes: Families of Today, a Curriculum Guide on Today's Changing Families for Children
Ages Eight to Eighteen. The course has been used in scattered schools around the
country. The new version of Shapes is due next month.
Schools are struggling with the needs of single
parents and stepfamilies, but there is "still a lot of stigma," she says. Some
schools don't want to seem to be "supporting divorce or the breakdown of the
She also knows schools are asked to carry a
heavy load, reacting to problems that have little to do with teaching math and English.
Gore campaign redefines "working
families" to include the unemployed and the unmarried
A story published today in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that,
under media questioning, the presidential campaign of Al Gore is redefining the phrase
"working families." The story points out that Gore has been invoking that
phrase over and over in his attempt to gain votes.
The author of the article starts out his story by saying: "It's hard to feel left out
of Al Gore's crusade for "working families.'' Especially because his campaign says it
extends to those who don't work. And even to those who don't have families. "
Gore used the phrase seven times during his acceptance speech at the
Democratic convention. It often headlines news releases dispatched by his campaign. And it
is certain to be the theme of the vice president's address to union members at a Labor Day
picnic today in Pittsburgh.
The story asks: "And what of the 5.7 million people who the
Labor Department says are unemployed, or the 37 million people the Census Bureau figures
do not live with family? Are they a part of Gore's "day-by- day fight'' for working
"Of course,'' said Gore spokesman Doug Hattaway. ``Working
families'' includes the unemployed and the unmarried. It includes gays and lesbians who
are prohibited by law from marrying.
The story suggests there is a reason that Gore uses the words
``working families'' rather than a more precise term like ``people.''
By repeating the populist phrase, Gore is able to make simultaneous appeals to members of
two potent voting blocs -- the working class and traditional families.
Though Gore aides play it down, the phrase has an unmistakable union
Type ``working families'' into an Internet search engine and an AFL-CIO site pops up,
advocating its own brand of family-friendly policies like limits on steel imports and
trade with China.
To some Republicans, the pitch is nothing more than a coded plea for
GOP strategist Rich Galen called it Gore's ``1930s-style owners
versus workers'' pitch.
``I think it is truly and solely a sop to the ears of labor movement
people,'' Galen said.
Sunday, September 3, 2000
Politicians' bashing of pop culture
turns off young single voters
A commentary by Danny
Goldberg published today in the Los Angeles Times warns politicians that if they keep
demonizing pop culture they run the risk of further alienating young (and mostly single)
voters who have already turned out at the polls in relatively low numbers. And since
Democrats will be the biggest losers if these young adults stay home on election day,
Goldberg questions why vice presidential candidate Joseph Lieberman keeps bashing the
entertainment industry anyway.
Goldberg says that when Lieberman said of prime-time TV, "You
can put a label on garbage, but it's still garbage," Washington insiders of every
ideology voiced approval. Pundits and the pols seem to be telling tens of millions of fans
of edgy entertainment that if they don't agree, they are morally inferior to the political
His commentary adds: "This condescension toward pop culture
knows no ideological boundaries. Ralph Nader and Harvard professor Cornel West have been
as outspoken as Lieberman, William Bennett and Pat Buchanan in condemning youth-oriented
Goldberg recalls how Bill Clinton first stimulated and then turned
off young adults, stating:
"In 1992, for the first time since 18-year-olds got the right
to vote, young people's participation rose significantly among both the 18- to 20-year-old
and 21- to 24-year-old cohorts. Bill Clinton, a youth-friendly candidate who not only
appeared on MTV and "The Arsenio Hall Show" but looked comfortable there, is
widely credited with attracting this vote. Organizations that targeted younger voters,
especially Rock the Vote, helped, too.
"But then, in 1996, Clinton ran for reelection with a campaign
designed to "triangulate" GOP appeal to married suburban voters. He targeted and
won those soccer moms. But largely unnoticed in his victory was the dramatic withdrawal of
young people. Turnout among 18- to 21-year-olds dropped from 38% to 31%; there was an even
larger decline among 21- to 24-year-olds, from 45% to 33%. These declines were far higher
on a percentage basis than any other age group. In the 1998 congressional election, 18- to
24-year-old turnout was roughly half other age groups--less than 17%.
"Why are young people so turned off by the political process?
Is the answer really that the younger generation has less civic concern, that it is less
moral than the baby boomers or the "greatest generation."? It could be
that lower participation by young voters is the result of political leaders refusing to
reach out to them by communicating the moral and pragmatic relevance of government in
their own cultural language. On those rare occasions when a candidate speaks their
language--for example, as Jesse Ventura does--participation among young people
Goldberg warns the Democrats that by participating in this bashing
of Hollywood, they are the ones most likely to suffer the political consequences.
"The establishment--the same people uncomfortable with youth
culture--is fine with this. Lower and older turnout is good for conservative ideologues of
both major parties. For it is the left that is most hurt by the marginalization of young
people from the political process. And no progressive change has ever taken place without
the young. As Abbie Hoffman, in one of his last speeches, said, 'It is always the young
that make change happen. You just don't get these ideas when you're middle aged. Young
people have daring, creativity, energy and impatience.'
"In the electoral context, the Republicans benefit from low
youth turnout, but Democratic consultants seem not to care either. About half of young
Americans are single, and polls have shown that singles tend to favor Democrats by a
margin of 10 points, while married voters favor Republicans by the same amount.
Nonetheless, the speeches at the Democratic convention monomaniacally focused on married
Goldberg concludes his commentary by saying:
"America would be far more politically healthy if politicians
and Beltway insiders treated young people and singles--the people who laugh at Farrelly
brothers movies and listen to hip-hop and rap music--as if their ideas and concerns were
as important as everyone else's. Of course, that would mean actually talking to and
listening to some of them."
Friday, September 1, 2000
Maryland state employees credit
union allows membership to unmarried household members of state workers
A story published today in the Washington Blade reports that the first special meeting in
at least seven years of the Maryland State Employees Credit Union turned out a positive
vote for unmarried workers.
SECU passed a vote with a 97 percent margin to allow household
members of state employees to become members of the credit union.
By Maryland state law, a favorable vote of only 75 percent was needed in order for the
proposed bylaw to be approved. Teresa Halleck, president and CEO of SECU, said 73 members
turned out and the final outcome of the vote was 71-2. According to Halleck, SECU has
With this bylaws change, a person who shares a home with his or her state employee partner
can become a member of the credit union. Up until this point, only family members of the
SECU have been eligible to become members.
Clinton vetoes 'death tax' repeal
A story published today by the Associated Press reports that House Republican leaders are vowing a prompt attempt to override
President Clinton's veto of a
bill repealing inheritance taxes, but if that fails the so-called death tax debate will
play out in the fall election campaigns.
Democrats content that the GOP refused to consider less-costly compromise provisions to
help the family farmers and small businesses sometimes hit hard by estate taxes, such as
raising exemptions for them without giving a windfall to the wealthiest taxpayers.
The bill, like the marriage penalty tax cut Clinton vetoed
a few weeks ago, was part of last year's vetoed $792 billion tax cut that congressional
Republicans are now trying to pass bit by bit.
Only about 2 percent of estates in a given year pay the tax
that reaches 55 percent, but sponsors of the repeal won broad support on Capitol Hill by
arguing that it inhibits business expansion, threatens breakups of farms and forces
millions of taxpayers to pay lawyers, accountants and insurance companies so they can
avoid the tax.
``Working men and women across the country recognize that
it is simply wrong that after paying taxes your whole life, the government can collect up
to 55 percent of these same assets when the head of the family dies,'' said Rep. Jennifer Dunn, R-Wash.
In the House, 65 Democrats joined all Republicans in
passing the bill this summer, just over the two-thirds threshold necessary to override the
veto. House GOP leaders tentatively plan next Thursday to put those Democrats on the spot
-- particularly those in difficult re-election fights -- and some say
they'll vote against Clinton.
``The president is wrong, and to his veto I say no,'' said
Rep. Ronnie Shows, D-Miss.
The bill is H.R. 8.
For more information about the estate tax, and how
unlimited wealth can be left to a surviving spouse without any tax being imposed, click here.