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





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


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Wednesday, September 20, 2000

ACLU endorses major campaigns of AASP

The board of directors of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California unanimously endorsed three major programs of the American Association for Single People, namely, our Human Rights Agenda for Unmarried America, our Singles-Friendly Workplace Campaign, and our Stop the Stigma Campaign.

The staff of the ACLU sent us the following message:

"All of us here very much look forward to working with the American Association for Single People to end marital status discrimination.  It is a cause whose time has come."

AASP complimented on its website

Marshall Miller, co-founder of the Alternatives to Marriage Project was interviewed recently by the editor of sitesherpa.com.   Miller is also a member of the American Association for Single People.

The following are some questions and answers raised during the interview:

Q.  Tell us about the mission of the Alternatives to Marriage Project.

A.  It's a national organization for unmarried people, including people who choose not to marry, people who are prevented from marrying, and people who live together before marriage. We work for greater understanding and acceptance of unmarried people.

Q.  Besides unmarried.org, what's the best thing online for unmarried couples?

A.  The American Association for Single People does great legal and political advocacy for unmarried people, including couples. The National Lesbian and Gay Task Force publishes an excellent Domestic Partnership Organizing Manual For Employee Benefits. Nolo.com publishes fantastic do-it-yourself legal guides for people in unmarried relationships.

Tuesday, September 19, 2000

Marital status gap still evident in race for president

A story published today in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that two recent poills show that the gap between married and unmarried voters remains significant, with most single people supporting Al Gore and most married people supporting George W. Bush.

The marital status gap is even wider with respect to women voters. While most single women support Gore, Bush -- like Republican candidates in other presidential elections -- leads among married women, particularly those under 50 with children still at home.

``The marriage gap is even more dramatic than the gender gap,'' said Celinda Lake, a Democratic pollster who has specialized in tracking women voters.

The latest New York Times/CBS News poll, conducted Sept. 9 to 11 with 843 registered voters, shows a similar contrast. Married women prefer Bush over Gore, 45 percent to 37 percent, while unmarried women strongly prefer Gore to Bush, 57 percent to 22 percent.

A new survey for the Pew Research Center, conducted Aug. 24 to Sept. 10 with 1,999 registered voters, found similar sentiments. The poll shows that Bush is ahead among both married mothers and married fathers and among married men who have no children, but that Gore leads among most other gender-based categories, including unmarried men of all ages, which is a significant gain for him. (The New York Times/CBS News poll, however, has Bush 2 percentage points ahead among unmarried men, and 6 points ahead among all men.)

``The close race between Bush and Gore among parents masks a sharp divide between married and single parents regarding who is the better candidate,'' Kohut said in his survey. ``While Bush has a 50 percent to 41 percent lead among voters who are married with children, voters who identify themselves as single parents -- 63 percent of whom are women -- favor Gore 55 percent to 34 percent.''

Washington Post opens its employee assistance program to household members

The Corporate Task Force on Hiring, Training, Staffing, Promotion, Communications and Diversity recommended to The Washington Post that the company's Employee Assistance Program coverage be extended to significant others.  The Post has implemented that suggestion.

Effective 9/13/2000 all employees were sent the new EAP brochure which state under the heading "Who May Use The EAP?" All employees and dependents/significant others living in the employee's household may use the EAP. This benefit is free to the employee and family members/significant others living in the same household.  There are no copayments and no deductible.

Marital status and gender politics involved in social security reform proposals

A story published today by Channel 4000 reports that the proposals of Al Gore and George W. Bush have implications for both married and unmarried women.

Bush is calling for voluntary private individual accounts that would allow workers to manage some of the investment funds themselves.

Gore is proposing a 401k-like savings program that would receive some federal matching funds, as well as an income credit for up to 5 years for parents who leave their jobs to raise small kids.

But regardless, the story says that women are at the forefront of the issue since the Social Security crisis is a bigger crisis for them.

"Women are not a sideshow to the national Social Security reform effort," says Professor Timothy Smeeding, director of the Center for Policy Research at Syracuse University. "They are the main event."

Here's why: About 75 percent of unmarried elderly women depend on Social Security for at least one half of their income, and 25 percent of unmarried elderly women depend on it for their only source of income, according to the Social Security Administration.

With higher incomes and higher savings levels, older men are less reliant on this government support.

Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute says that the current system actually hurts women in two ways. He points out that 25 percent of married female workers receive spousal benefits because the amount is higher, but they don't get any additional benefit for the years they've worked and paid into the system. In the meantime, women who have never worked and paid taxes receive the same benefit.

Another issue is the lack of inheritability. For instance, if a single mother of two who has worked and paid into the system dies shortly after her children turn 18, they lose out on her Social Security benefits. In other words, even though she paid into the system for years, they are without any support for college and their now-motherless lives.

What Can Be Done?

Options on the table include other forms of individual savings accounts financed by employee payroll contributions, or even investing part of the Social Security funds in the stock market. That may sound like a crazy idea, but it's exactly what other major public pension funds, like California's, have done to bolster their assets.

But even if these ideas were to be implemented, the federal General Accounting Office says that women would still lose. For instance, since most women earn less than men, less money would go into their investment accounts, and the gap between men's and women's retirement income would only widen.

And a recent report on financing the aging populations says that privatizing social security would only hamper women. "The administrative costs for a privatized system may be a larger percentage of smaller investment accounts than of larger accounts," says the Gerontological Society of America's report, "Social Security Reform and Older Women: Improving the System." The potential result: Those lower earners with smaller accounts, such as women, would foot a bigger bill, proportionally.

Sunday, September 17, 2000

Parent's marital status can influence self-esteem of African American adolescent boys

A story published today by the American Psychological Association reports that in a new study examining how family characteristics affect African American youth, researchers found that African American adolescent boys with nonmarried parents are more at risk for developing low self-esteem compared with other African American adolescents.

The study, published in the September issue of the American Psychological Association's (APA) Journal of Family Psychology, illustrates the apparently valuable role of the African American father in raising his children, particularly his boys.

Psychologists Jelani Mandara and Carolyn B. Murray, Ph.D., of the University of California, Riverside, studied perceptions of self-esteem and family functioning from a sample of 116 15-year-old African American girls and boys and their parents from various high schools in southern California. Fifty percent of the parents were married, 38 percent were divorced and 13 percent were never-married single mothers.

Results show that boys with married parents had higher overall self-esteem compared with boys with nonmarried parents, even when family income and family functioning were taken into consideration. Parental marital status had no affect on girls' self-esteem.

The researchers say the gender differences in their findings may be explained by mothers' and fathers' different socializing patterns. "In a two-parent home, the balance between the mother's and father's different socializing patterns may be what keeps the self-esteem of both sexes relatively equal," explained the authors. "Apparently, the absent father upsets this balance, which leaves the African American male adolescent in a family environment in which less is expected from him, and, consequently, he may not develop the positive feelings of self-esteem."

The authors say they are not suggesting that all male children living in single-parent homes are suffering from low self-esteem, just as not all children living with married parents are doing well. However, they say the study shows that the role fathers play in socializing their children is very important and that public policy should be more focused on reversing the current trends of low marriage rates and high divorce rates.

Free or subsidized family counseling before and during marriage and expanding visitation rights for noncustodial parents are among the public policy changes the authors suggest.

Besides parental marital status, the researchers also studied the effects family income and family functioning might have on self-esteem of African American adolescents.

Results indicated that adolescents from families with higher incomes perceived themselves as more likable and lovable and as having higher self-control. Also, results suggest that the better the family functions, the higher the self-esteem of the adolescent.

The American Psychological Association (APA), in Washington, DC, is the largest scientific and professional organization representing psychology in the United States and
is the world's largest association of psychologists. APA's membership includes more than 159,000 researchers, educators, clinicians, consultants and students.


Thursday, September 14, 2000

Divorce-related issues are becoming more complex

A story published today in the San Jose Mercury News suggests that offering advice on divorce strategies are written for women, presumably because females are the ones who decide whether and when it's time to throw in the towel.

Psychotherapist Mira Kirshenbaum claims, ``There are 140 million Americans today in a relationship, and one-fifth of them -- that's 28 million people -- just can't decide whether to stay or leave.''

Attorney and author Bradley Pistotnik wrote ``Divorce Wars!'' for women and recommends that women ask themselves a series of cr
itical questions: Has your husband committed adultery? Has he abused you physically or emotionally? Do you feel his commitment to his work takes priority over you? Does he give you the attention and love you need and want? Does he stay late with his friends and treat you without the respect you deserve?

According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the most common reasons for ``failed marriages'' are poor communication, financial problems, lack of commitment to marriage, dramatic change in priorities and infidelity.

Attorney Bernard Post says that everyone can learn to communicate better. But he warns that may not improve a problematic marriage. The most common source of marital disagreement may not be money. The death of a parent, an accident (particularly of a child) or other trauma frequently unravels a marriage. High-level job relocation is also a common source of disconnection.

For example, marriages are stressed when the wife has to work in one city and the husband has to work in a distant city. Parents who are separated or divorced usually have problems with their children when one of them relocates. An increase in the number of hours spent on the job as well as high-stress careers, particularly in service industries -- advertising, finance, law, media, public relations and especially the e-commerce companies where the jobs are 24 hours a day, 7 days a week -- can pull a marriage apart.

The story points out that there is much less social stigma surrounding divorce than in the past. Post, who has practiced family and matrimonial law exclusively for the last 30 years said, ``Men and women no longer defer divorce until children are grown or leave for college.'' An increased award of joint custody of children has also removed the trauma of separation when one parent was awarded sole custody.

``Divorces among religious groups that previously shunned divorce, including Orthodox Jews and Catholics, has increased,'' said Post, ``as has divorce among ethnic groups that now can afford the costs of divorce, including Asians, blacks and Latinos.

The story indicates that prenuptial agreements are becoming more common. Post predicts that postnuptial agreements, in marriages with and without prenuptial agreements, will be used more often, particularly with the newly affluent. ``I also see a form of ADR (Alternate Dispute Resolution) or binding arbitration with private judges' replacing divorce hearings in public courts,'' said Post. ``It's much faster than the civil courts.''

Faster divorces are not the solution to resolving differences. Kirshenbaum, in her book ``Too Good to Leave; Too Bad To Stay,'' recommends that couples first try to work out their anger. ``It's when they hold on to anger and resentment between fights, instead of relaxing and trying to work through issues, that keep the relationship from healing.''


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