Wednesday, June 6, 2001
Sex discrimination in high-tech
jobs still prevalent
A story published by the Kansas City Star
reports that a study released by Deloitte & Touche Tuesday shows that
women working in the high-tech industry are encountering the same discrimination and
obstacles to advancement as women in more traditional industries.
Two-thirds of the online professionals surveyed for the study thought that the playing
field is "more level" for women working in high technology than in other
industries. However, the majority said that men still have an advantage in high-tech jobs
and that a glass ceiling keeps women from advancing.
About 60 percent of the women surveyed thought that women hit a glass ceiling in
technology jobs. They said barriers to advancement include gender bias, sex discrimination and a lack of female
role models. They also said women are incorrectly perceived as less knowledgeable or
qualified than their male counterparts.
"While there are women achieving stunning success in the high-tech industry, they
appear to be the exception rather than the rule," said Sue Molina, national director
of the Deloitte & Touche Initiative for the Retention and Advancement of Women.
"There is clearly a disconnect between men and women's perceptions of what factors
contribute to success in the workplace."
The Women in Technology Leadership survey is the second in a series of polls commissioned
by Deloitte & Touche on women's leadership roles in the United States. One thousand
women and 500 men were interviewed for the study, which was conducted by Roper Starch
The survey confirms earlier research, including work by Catalyst, a nonprofit research and
advisory organization that works to advance women in business.
"One of the things that is clear is that the pipeline (of women entering information
technology) has decreased over time," said Mary Mattis, senior research fellow at
Only 17 percent of high school students taking advanced placement computer science are
women. From the mid-1980s to the mid-1990s, the percentage of computer science degrees
awarded to women declined from 37 percent to 28 percent.
Mattis said it is crucial to get young girls and women to study these subjects because the
demand for high-tech skills will only increase.
Molina said that despite the findings, she is hopeful that high-tech businesses will make
the necessary changes.
"The technology industry has a great opportunity because it's such a new industry,
and it's easier for it to change its culture and environment," Molina said.
"Companies will never be successful if they cannot attract and retain the best and
the brightest, and you can't keep the best and the brightest if you ignore half the work
Without mates, more women are
starting their own families
A story published by the Chicago Tribune reports
that in the past 10 years, a growing number of single women over 30 have either given
birth or adopted despite not having found their perfect partner.
"They're not ready to be married and they haven't found the person they match up
with. They're just not willing to postpone the pleasure of parenthood," said Walter
Smitson, psychiatry professor at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center who has
spoken about older single mothers at national health conferences. "Their maternal
instinct is strong and they feel, once they're over 30, they're mature enough to do it on
National Center for Health Statistics data shows that the number of babies born to single
women over 30 has grown from about 170,000 in 1990 to nearly 200,000 in 1999.
While the number of births to unmarried women has increased from about one in
10 in 1970 to one in three today, the number of older single women having babies is also
rising. Thirty years ago, 18 percent of babies born outside of marriage were to women 25
and older. Today, that number stands at 34 percent, according to a report from Child
Trends, a non-profit research organization based in Washington, D.C.
Although single mothers have been raising children alone for years, "the difference
today is that women are making a conscious decision to raise a child by themselves as
opposed to having it thrust upon them because of death, divorce or abandonment," said
Kim Gandy, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women.
Therapists and doctors point to several factors that have contributed to the increase in
the number of single women who choose to become mothers. As the traditional definition of
family has changed within the past 20 years, society has become more accepting of single
mothers, they say. Celebrities and television personalities also have helped erase stigmas
surrounding single mothers by publicizing their decisions to adopt or give birth.
"People are talking about it more. Women are feeling more comfortable with themselves
as far as their ability to handle a family without a husband," said Michael Halpern,
an obstetrician/gynecologist at Prentice Women's Hospital and Maternity Center at
Northwestern Memorial Hospital who has helped about a dozen single women over 30 give
birth in the last year.
More women today choose to postpone marriage and parenthood in favor of their careers,
psychiatrists say. By the time they reach their late 30s and early 40s, many of these
women have successful jobs and are financially stable. They also feel independent enough
to be a parent alone.
However, becoming a single parent often has disadvantages, researchers say. Studies that
compare children from two-parent families and those from single-parent families show that
children who do not grow up with their fathers tend to have problems academically, show
emotional or behavioral problems, be more likely to have sex as teenagers and have
children out of wedlock and be at a higher risk for drug and alcohol abuse, said Bridget
Maher, marriage and family policy analyst for the non-partisan, non-profit Family Research
Council in Washington, D.C.
Women who choose to become single mothers are "looking out for themselves but they're
not looking out for the good of the child," said Maher.
A critical element is a support network, many single mothers say. Jane Mattes, author of
"Single Mothers by Choice," became pregnant accidentally in 1980 and chose to
keep her baby when she realized it might be her only chance to become a mother. Soon after
Mattes' son was born, the 37-year-old new mother formed a support group of eight single
mothers because she wanted to meet other women in her situation.
Today, Single Mothers by Choice is an international group with more than 4,000 members who
receive support and advice. Mattes' son just finished his junior year of college and is
working as an intern in computer programming at Columbia University this summer.
"You need to know you're not doing this on an island," Mattes said. "Women
should ask themselves if they can tap into a support system so that they are able to count
on support when they need it."
Single women who are considering parenthood should weigh several factors, such as their
health, finances and support system, before deciding to raise a child alone, therapists
A strong support system is one of the most important needs of single mothers, several
therapists and mothers who have raised children alone said.
Monday, June 4, 2001
Michigan state court
upholds old state statute on housing discrimination
A story published today by the Detroit
Free Press reports that a few years ago, Court of Appeals Judge Maura Corrigan noted that
under an 1846 Michigan statute it is still illegal for a man and woman who are not married
to live together for the purpose of having sex. If lawmakers had meant to protect
unmarried couples from discrimination, she reasoned, they surely would have begun by
repealing the law that establishes criminal penalties for their conduct.
Michigan Supreme Court justices resoundingly rejected
Corrigan's reasoning in December 1998, holding that the state's civil rights law did
indeed bar landlords from rejecting unmarried couples on the basis of their marital
status, notwithstanding the existence of a statute that hadn't been enforced in 60 years.
But just four months later, a new Supreme Court
majority -- which by then included both Corrigan and a second signatory to her 1997 Court
of Appeals ruling, Justice Cliff Taylor -- voted to reverse course.
Conceding that two unmarried couples who'd sued for
housing discrimination had a cause of action, the high court's conservative majority
nevertheless directed Jackson County Circuit Judge Alexander Perlos to determine whether
the landlords who'd turned them away had a right to do so on religious grounds.
In an eight-page opinion that turns the housing
discrimination law on its head, the Jackson County circuit judge held that landlords who
harbor religious objections to out-of-wedlock cohabitation have a constitutional right to
bar unmarried couples.
Michigan law already includes a loophole extending that
discretion to landlords who rent out rooms in their own houses or duplexes. But Perlos'
ruling blows that exception wide open, theoretically allowing the Detroit developer of a
500-unit condominium project in Charlevoix to nix unmarried couples so long as his
religious objections were sincere.
Clifford Shrupp, a former United Church of Christ
minister who directs the Fair Housing Center of Metropolitan Detroit, notes that judges
elsewhere have consistently held that landlords who believe the Bible precludes them from
doing business with blacks, Jews or single women "should invest in something other
But James Fleming, a lawyer for the unmarried couples
whose housing rights were trampled in the Jackson County case, says his clients have no
intention of giving conservative appellate judges the opportunity to make Perlos' ruling a
"Why take the chance of making bad case law?"
It is only a matter of time before other landlords
across the state assert their right to defend the institution of marriage in their
apartments, condos and housing developments.
Illinois's DuPage county
focuses on unwed fathers
A story published by the Chicago Tribune reports
that Illinois' DuPage County Parents and Kids in Partnership Program, or PAK, has made a
small but important breakthrough in the often muddled world of unwed parents.
The 3 year old program, is designed to
bridge the gap between never-married parents with an emphasis on getting fathers more
involved in their children's lives. The guiding principle is that children thrive when
they have a relationship with both parents--and that fathers are more likely to pay child
support if they are active in their children's lives.
Initial studies by the state, though incomplete,
show child-support payments have increased among fathers who have gone through the PAK
"It's been doing extremely well," said
Joseph Mason, who heads the Child Support Program in the Illinois Department of Public
Aid, the agency that funds PAK. "It's been successful working with the never-married
population, which often does not have these services."
According to census figures, the number of
single mothers nationwide increased three times faster than married couples in the 1990s.
During the decade, the number of single mothers in the U.S. grew by 27 percent, a trend
echoed in Chicago's suburbs.
In DuPage, almost 13 percent of the babies born
in 1998 were born to unmarried mothers, and census figures released earlier this year show
25,882 of the county's households--or about 8 percent--are run by single mothers.
Often, PAK organizers say, never-married parents
slip through the cracks of the legal system, where rules are designed for divorcing
"We have had cases where dad is meeting
their child for the first time and the kid is 15 years old," said Sheila
Murphy-Russell, coordinator of the program. "The bottom line for us is there are good
dads--they can be good dads--but the system hasn't always been there for them."
PAK sets up in a DuPage courtroom, providing
mediators for feuding parents who come through the judicial system. Many of the program's
clients are steered into PAK by a judge who has overseen a couple's child support battle
or a DNA test that proves paternity.
For fathers who have no relationship with their
child, the program provides supervised visits. For both parents, PAK has a three-hour
seminar in which they are encouraged to set aside their differences and focus on the
interest of their children.
While Cook County and Peoria run similar
programs for unmarried parents, neither combine all the components included in the DuPage
Officials at the Illinois Department of Public
Aid say that because the program is so new, there are too few cases to draw statistical
conclusions. Since its inception in 1998, PAK has enrolled 564 families in at least part
of the program, but fewer than 200 have completed an entire year.
An initial, ongoing study by the state shows
that fathers who go through PAK pay child support at roughly the same rate as fathers who
have joint custody of their children, or about 80 percent.
By contrast, the study shows fathers in similar
situations who haven't been through the program tend to pay at a much lower rate, closer
to the state rate of fathers who don't have joint custody, or about 35 percent.
"There is an enormous value on getting
fathers involved," said DuPage Associate Judge Thomas Dudgeon, whose courtroom is the
host for PAK. "You can't put a dollar value on that and you can't put a success rate
on that. ... The goal here is to build families on a lot of different levels,"
Sunday, June 3, 2001
Tax measure offers
little relief for married couples
A story published by the Los Angeles Times
reports that the big tax cut passed by Congress last weekend was supposed to give married
couples a break. But the relief is too little and comes too late, experts say.
The bill, which President Bush is expected to sign this week, provides
some relief to two-income married couples. But the tax breaks are modest, addressing only
a few of the tax penalties for dual-income marrieds that pockmark the code. Moreover, most
of the relief is delayed until 2005--a point at which about one in five couples who
marries this year already will have filed for divorce, according to the National Center
for Health Statistics.
"It isn't a great help," said Brenda Schafer, a tax research
expert at H&R Block in Kansas City, Mo. "It's just a little tweak."
Consider a hypothetical husband and wife, each with $25,000 in taxable
income--or $50,000 combined. This couple would pay about $1,400 more in federal income tax
than two single people earning the same.
But this married couple will get just $466 in tax relief in 2006,
according to an analysis by CCH Inc., a Riverwoods, Ill.-based publisher of tax
information. In other words, they still will pay substantially more federal income tax
than if they had stayed single.
The problem isn't just a matter of timing. The breaks for married couples
will take effect in stages, getting a bit more generous each year. But even when they're
in full effect in 2009, they still will fall short of solving the marriage penalty
problem, said Mark Luscombe, principal tax analyst at CCH Inc.
"There are 40 or 50 areas in the tax code that cause a marriage
penalty," he said. "This only addresses [a few] of them."
Some tax code provisions create marriage penalties--and some create
bonuses. For instance, although two-income married couples pay more tax than singles with
similar earnings, single-income married couples pay less.
* Tax brackets
U.S. income taxes are based on progressive rates, meaning the more you
earn, the higher percentage you pay in taxes. However, the income thresholds that trigger
higher tax brackets are never twice as high for married couples as they are for single
Consequently, two singles with taxable income of $25,000--or $50,000
total--each pay 15% of that in tax. But a married couple with a combined income of $50,000
would pay 28% on the portion of their income above $43,840--the income threshold at which
tax brackets change for married couples filing jointly. Thus, the married couple pays $800
more in income tax on the $6,160 in taxable income than two single taxpayers with the same
taxable income combined. To be specific, each single pays $3,750 in tax, or $7,500
combined. If they were married, they'd pay $8,300--an increase of $800.
* Standard deduction
For two singles, the standard deduction is $4,550 each, or $9,100--
considerably more than the standard deduction for married couples--$7,600. Because
deductions are used to shield income from taxation, that difference cost a married couple
in the 15% tax bracket $225 this year.
* Tax credits
Many tax credits and deductions are tied to income. If you earn more than
set amounts, you lose your ability to claim them. Because the married thresholds
frequently are more than twice the single thresholds, married couples lose out again.
In fact, H&R Block's Schafer said, one of the most onerous income
requirements affects low-income parents trying to qualify for the earned income tax
credit, a break for the working poor.
No taxpayer earning more than about $32,000 a year can qualify for the
credit. However, the income test makes no distinction for marital status. The result:
Low-income married couples with children lose the right to claim thousands of dollars in
For instance, a married couple with two children and $40,000 in combined
income--$20,000 from each parent--can't claim the earned income tax credit. However, if
this couple split and each claimed one child as a dependent, each would get an earned
income tax credit of $1,181--or $2,362 total.
Although the latest census figures show an increase in the number of
unmarried couples living together, there's no statistical evidence that the marriage
penalty is the cause. Still, concern about the government undermining the institution of
marriage spurred Congress to include marriage penalty relief in the tax package.
Congress opted for a two-pronged approach. The measure raises both the
standard deduction and the income thresholds for married couples in the 15% bracket until
the thresholds reach 200% of the relevant levels for singles.
However, the marital status disparities in all higher tax brackets remain
unchanged. That means higher-income couples--who often pay thousands of dollars more in
federal income taxes because they are married--will get little relief compared with the
amount of additional income tax that they pay.
In another change that will help lower-income couples, starting next year,
the income limit will also rise by $1,000 for married couples claiming the earned income
Still, many people think married couples should have gotten more.
"We promote public policy by the way we tax," Woodhouse said.
"Unless we want to start promoting a single lifestyle, you need to give more to
This article emphasizes marriage penalties but does not mention all of the
marriage bonuses in the tax codes, such as the social security spousal survivor benefit,
the estate tax exemption for a surviving spouse, the income tax exemption for spousal
benefits at work, the property tax transfer exemption if title is transferred on an
automobile or real property to a spouse, etc.
Politicians in state
capitol promoting marriage and fatherhood
A story published today by the Christian Science
Monitor reports that politicians in the state capital are trying to counter the momentum
of the recent decline of the traditional American family by using government to promote
families, marriage, and fatherhood.
The recent census showed that married couples
with children make up less than a quarter of all households. To some conservatives, this
signals a further fraying of the social fabric. So they're leading an effort to fund
everything from high-school classes on marriage to $5,000 bonuses for women at risk of
having out-of-wedlock births to encourage them to marry - and stay married.
While critics say there's no evidence such
"social engineering" works, both the White House and some Democrats are pushing
initiatives that represent a new level of federal involvement in helping the American
In a controversial move, President Bush is
budgeting $315 million over five years for programs to bolster fatherhood and marriage.
The initiatives are a precursor to the 2002 reauthorization of the welfare-reform law,
when a major recalibration toward fatherhood and marriage programs is expected.
Even supporters concede, however, there's little
evidence these programs will change what goes on in homes.
But it's not just conservatives who are focusing
on the family. Moderate Democrats are pushing fatherhood programs, too. Indiana Sen. Evan
Bayh, head of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, has introduced a bill to give
$380 million to states for fatherhood initiatives. Sen. Joseph Lieberman (D) of
Connecticut is a co-sponsor. A similar bill in the House has the endorsement of the
congressional Black Caucus.
Fatherhood programs typically stress one or more
basic elements: encouraging dads to spend time with their kids, pushing them to pay child
support, helping them find better jobs so they can support their progeny.
Supporters laud these kinds of initiatives. Ted
Horn, who Mr. Bush has nominated to be head of family support at the Health and Human
Services Department, wrote recently that public policy - including tax policy -
"needs to show it values marriage by rewarding those who choose it." He
advocates requiring states to have a plan to boost two-parent households. Another option
is turning the "marriage penalty" tax into a "marriage bonus."
But not all conservatives agree with this
approach. Advocates of less government see this as too activist. "We're talking about
the most intimate of human relations - and about the government coming in with a
sledgehammer to try to fix it," says Michael Tanner of the libertarian Cato Institute
here. He also calls the approach "hypocritical" because it shows that
Republicans are saying, "Now that we control the power of government we should use it
for our purposes" - for social engineering of the conservative kind.
Other groups - from women to gays to single
people - resist the emphasis on marriage because they say it ignores the many other forms
of family life that exist across the nation and promotes a patriarchal tradition.
Furthermore, they say, in cases of domestic
tension or abuse, marriage may not be a good answer. "Some people assume single
parenthood is always bad," says MDRC's Mr. Berlin. "But the evidence is hardly
Yet a focus on marriage may also help women
think through who they're hanging out with, says Heritage's Mr. Rector. "If the guy
you're co-habiting with right now is no good, maybe you need to steer away from him,"
Separated parents can use
virtual visitation to be in contact with their kids
A story published today by the Sacramento Bee
reports that divorce is hard on kids, but it's even tougher when one parent moves out of
Technology, however, has made it more convenient
for parents to be a part of their children's lives even if they live far apart
from each other. Think of it as "virtual visitation." E-mail is the easiest tool
to bridge the distance. Assuming the kids are old enough to manage it, it's worth it to
invest the $20 or so a month to set your kids up with e-mail accounts. E-mail
particularly shines when there's a big time-zone difference.
Setting up an email account allows you to send
photos or even little video clips or post photos on a Web site for your kids to see. With
kids growing so quickly, parents appreciate this feature much more than kids do.
Another variation of this is "instant
messaging," where you go online and communicate via text messages. Many kids,
particularly those 12 to 16, love "IM-ing" their friends, so it would be a
natural way to stay in touch. Kids think it's much cooler when they receive
instant-messages rather than parents contacting them on the phone constantly.
Another approach out of the Jetsons cartoon
series is videoconferencing. With so-called "videocams" you'll be able to
see each other while you talk, almost like you're in the same room. Depending on your
computer, it's not that expensive to set up.
Aware of the new technological advances, a New
Jersey appeals court has recently ruled that online visiting -- along with traditional
face-to-face contact -- would be a "creative and innovative" way for a father to
stay in touch with his 9-year-old daughter if the man's ex-wife moved to California.
A Florida court in December 2000 has also
ordered the parents of a 10-year-old girl to install videoconferencing computers in both
homes when the girl's mother relocated to Ohio.
Videoconferencing isn't perfect. The pictures
may be jerky and audio quality may not be the best. But, virtual visitation is better than
not being there at all, and the main thing is it shows the child is that you care. That's
more important than anything.
Try an un-wedding after a
A story published today by the Chicago Sun Times reports that a divorce service that was
once popular in the 70's is now being revived. Phil and Barbara Penningroth had planned
the formal split at the end of their 25-year marriage almost as carefully as they had
Their "ceremony of parting," in which they handed back the rings they had once
placed on each other's fingers and "forgave" one another, was performed in front
Couples who choose these ceremonies set aside their differences to mark the end of their
marriages with as much ritual and celebration as they began them.
The intention is to avoid the bitterness and recrimination of divorce in a society where
marriage appears to be crumbling. Census figures released last week show that barely a
quarter of the country's households comprise a couple with children--the lowest ever
recorded. The divorce rate is almost 40 percent.
Because divorce ceremonies have no legal status, there are no accurate figures on how many
partake in the aforementioned ceremonies.
Barbara Penningroth advises couples to wait for a while after their legal divorce before
holding a joint ceremony, to allow emotions to cool off. She admits that some partners may
never agree to take part. "But you can always do it alone."
Saturday, June 2, 2001
Reality brings changes in
religious congregation cohabitation policies
A story published by the Seattle Times reports that local spiritual leaders are loosening
their stance on traditional policies on cohabitation by acknowledging the upswing of
unwed couples living together in their own congregations.
"It would be safe to say that the classical Jewish tradition really looks very
severely upon nonmarried couples living together," says Scott Sperling, associate
rabbi at Temple de Hirsch Sinai. "But we're a Reform congregation, and we don't feel
that way anymore."
In 1970, when the sexual revolution was already testing traditional religious views on
marriage and sexuality, about 500,000 unmarried couples were living together in the United
States. By 1990, that figure had ballooned to nearly 3.2 million. The recently released
Census shows that nearly 5.5 million unmarried couples are living together.
In the face of such trends, many faiths have ditched hard-line views for more
welcoming attitudes. It's an approach churches and synagogues take despite oft-quoted
statistics that say couples who live together are 50 percent more likely to split up -- a
trend Sperling has seen often enough to vouch for its truth.
Religious leaders say they consider the very request for a blessed wedding an indication
that a previously inactive couple wants to take their faith more seriously. Taking too
strict a stance risks driving those couples away while ignoring their desire to commit to
each other or be responsible parents.
"Usually when they get married they're likelier to join the synagogue, especially if
they want to have kids," says Rabbi Dov Gartenberg of Congregation Beth Shalom.
Bill Gallant, communications director for Seattle's Catholic Archdiocese, concurs.
"The church isn't about condemnation; it's about helping people understand their
faith and what the church teaches," Gallant says. He says the Archdiocese, noting the
increasing number of wedding requests from cohabiting pairs, has launched efforts to
create a formal policy to provide parishes with direction when such couples appear at
their doorsteps hoping for the church's blessing.
"We want to make sure we embrace that opportunity." said Gallant.
At downtown Seattle's St. James Cathedral, 36 of the 71 couples who said vows last year
were already living together, marriage coordinator Linda Carr says. While the Catholic
Church would not approve, she says, there's nothing that can really be said or done.
"The fact that they are seeking a sacramental marriage in the church is the greater
value," Carr says.
Change hasn't come easy for the orthodox, though. Some couples don't appreciate the open
stance the church is taking toward their unwed brethren or that the subject is raised
during marriage-preparation group sessions, a situation one mother recently called Carr to
"Her daughter was mortified that it was openly discussed," Carr said.
In November, the rising number of cohabiting couples, in addition to the perplexing issue
of same-sex partners, has prompted the country's four largest Christian church groups to
issue a joint declaration espousing conventional marriage. The coalition comprised the
National Association of Evangelicals, National Conference of Catholic Bishops, the
National Council of Churches and the Southern Baptist Convention.
"There is a tendency in our society for people to think they can trade in
spouses," says Pastor John Hunter of First African Methodist Episcopal Church on
"That whole notion of lifelong commitment is dwindling."
Despite their forgiving attitudes, the religious leaders who've adopted more open
attitudes still push traditional values.
Friday, June 1, 2001
Louisiana bill to
change sodomy law fails in House
A story published today by The Advocate
reports that the Louisiana House came within six votes of passing a bill Thursday to
legalize oral and anal sex between consenting adults behind closed doors.
The defeat came in spite of an attempt to revamp the
law so it could still be used to arrest homosexuals who have sex acts in Baton Rouge
Under Louisianas current sodomy law, oral
and anal sex are felonies, regardless of whether the participants are homosexuals or
heterosexuals, and even if they are married to each other.
HB2036 by Rep. Cedric Richmond, D-New Orleans, simply
says that "sexual acts committed by and between consenting adults in private shall
not be deemed as a crime against nature."
Rep. Tony Perkins, R-Baker, decried the bill as an
attempt by homosexuals to "push the envelope."
"This legislation has nothing to do with what
married couples do in their bedrooms -- and it has everything to do with legitimizing
homosexuality," Perkins said.
During the debate, Perkins circulated a letter from
Baton Rouge Recreation and Park Superintendent Gene Young, who expressed concern that
Richmonds bill might complicate efforts to crack down on homosexual behavior
in local parks.
"Our concern is that, in its current form, HB2026
allows such activity in private, but does not define
private, Young said in the letter.
"It is unclear whether this language would permit
this activity in a park restroom or toilet stall or even behind a tree," Young added.
To address the concerns voiced by Young, state Rep.
Emma Devillier, D-Plaquemine, amended the bill to say that the sodomy ban still would
apply if the acts occur in public places, "including but not limited to public parks
and public restrooms."
But Perkins said that, even with the change,
its unclear whether oral and anal sex acts performed in cars would be
considered to be in private -- even though they might be viewed by others.
Another opponent, Rep. A.G. Crowe, R-Slidell, also
noted that the current law is also routinely used to arrest heterosexual prostitutes.
But Richmond noted that other laws on the book could be
used to prosecute prostitutes.
Speaking in favor of the bill was Rep. Danny Martiny,
R-Kenner, who noted that much of the opposition to Richmonds bill was mounted on
"A lot of you have told me in private,
Man, I can't vote for this bill -- those religious people back home will kill
me," Martiny said.
Martiny said the law is not about gay rights, noting
that married heterosexuals could be prosecuted under the current sodomy law.
"We need to show a little courage and stand up and
say, The current law doesn't make any sense," Martiny said.
The bill failed by a vote 47-45. A majority of 53 votes
is needed to pass a bill in the 105-member House. Twelve members did not vote.
Richmond said he intends to bring the bill up for
Sodomy laws on the way
A story released today by the Bay Area Reporter reports that last May 14 the Louisiana
House approved legislation that would do away with that state's"crimes against
nature" law banning oral and anal sex between consenting adults. The new bill would
add a sentence that reads, "sexual acts committed by and between consenting adults in
private shall not be deemed as a crime against nature."
Earlier this year a New Orleans judge barred enforcement of the sodomy law citing it
violated the constitutional right to privacy. The state appealed this ruling to the
Louisiana Supreme Court, which upheld the law once before. In addition, the Louisiana
Electorate of Gay and Lesbians brought a suit against the law because it discriminates
against gay men and lesbians. Although the law bans sodomy between partners of any gender,
LEGAL attorney John Rawls claimed that gays and lesbians are more affected because the law
"denies [same-sex partners] the right to have sex under any circumstances."
A Minnesota state court judge also struck down a similar state sodomy law prohibiting oral
and anal sex between partners of any gender last May 18. Judge Delila Pierce ruled against
the law, saying it was "unconstitutional, as applied to private, consensual,
non-commercial acts of sodomy by consenting adults, because it violates the right of
privacy guaranteed by the Minnesota Constitution."
The American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against the law on behalf of a group of
citizens who believes that they are unfairly targeted by the law. According to ACLU
Lesbian and Gay Rights Project director Matt Coles, "This is a tremendous victory
because of what sodomy laws do, but also because of what they say. Sodomy laws, because
they are understood to primarily apply to lesbians and gay men, marginalize gay people and
their pursuit of equal citizenship."
ACLU representatives are concerned that Gov. Jesse Ventura's administration may attempt to
argue that the legal decision applies only to the current plaintiffs, and are urging that
the ruling be certified as a class action case that applies to all Minnesotans.
South Carolina lawmakers
bid to ban contraceptives to singles rejected
A story released today by Charleston .Net
reports that the Republican efforts to ban the state from giving condoms and other birth
control devices to unmarried South Carolinians were killed Thursday as leaders met to
draft a budget compromise.
Another measure that would prevent the
Department of Health and Human Services from assisting in abortion services was also
The Republican House and Senate members had
wanted the stipulations added as part of agency budget allocations. But both efforts were
overruled by Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman and other members of the Senate in
the budget conference committee.
The primary reason was that federal law
prohibits discrimination in regard to marital status, and enacting the ban on the
unmarried could have jeopardized millions of dollars in health-related federal funds.
US Census reveals
increase in single women
A story released today by Business Wire reports that the results of the 2000 US Census
indicate that for the first time, the percentage of the population living alone (26%) is
greater than the percentage of married-couple households with children, thus indicating
that the single lifestyle has become normative among today's women. The current issue of
BUST Magazine, which hits newsstands today, celebrates this trend in an issue entirely
dedicated to single women.
"While it's been said that a woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle, we
wanted to take a look at what single women's lives were really all about," said
Editor-in-Chief Debbie Stoller. The issue offers an intelligent and candid look at today's
solo gal, and features stories from single women of all stripes, including the satisfied
and the dissatisfied, the straight and the gay, the old and the young.
"Many women who are in their late 20's and 30's grew up believing that they would be
married by now," says Stoller. "So whether they are single by choice or not,
these women are in the process of improvising new life paths for themselves. That's not
easy, and we wanted to let them share their experiences with each other."
The 2000 census results also show that since 1990, the number of households with unmarried
mothers has increased by 25%, and this growing female segment is represented in an article
piece in the magazine profiling the nationwide network Single Mothers By Choice and the
very personal stories of some of its members.
High divorce rates, longer life expectancy of women than men, and the dramatic rise of
women's education and economic self-sufficiency are further societal trends delineated by
the census data that suggest an exciting, evolving culture of women finding their own way
in America. As the current issue of BUST proves, while these women may be single, they are
certainly not alone.