May 15, 2001
reports increase in unmarried couples
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that America's notion of
getting married and settling down has slowly changed in terms of the time frame or
perception. They're expanding their ideas of what it means to "settle down."
Between 1990 and 2000, the latest census finds that
there is a 71 percent increase in the number of unmarried partners living together.
It dwarfed the growth in married-couple households which only went up 7 percent from the
Data released by the Census Bureau Tuesday also showed
a large increase in other alternative arrangements: a 25 percent increase in the
number of women living with their own child but without a husband; and a 21 percent growth
increase in the number of people living alone.
Still, the figures should place new pressure on lawmakers to
deal with the issues of changing family structures, said Thomas Coleman, executive
director of the American Association of Single People. Those issues include expanding
employee benefits for domestic partners and recognizing same-sex partnerships.
"We're just saying let's even the playing field a
bit," Coleman said. "If we are doling out benefits fairly, let's dole them out
to single and unmarried people, and married people."
Later this year the Census Bureau will reveal more details,
such as how many unmarried couples were in same-sex relationships, or how many people
living alone were elderly widows.
Overall, there were 54.5 million married-couple families in
2000, or about 52 percent of the country's 105.5 million households, the census reported.
In 1990, there were 50.7 million married-couple homes, 55 percent of all households then.
By comparison, unmarried-partner homes number 5.5 million
now, or about 5 percent of all homes, up from the 3 percent reported a decade ago.
"I don't need the trappings of weddings and bridal
showers to make me feel worthy or guarantee a commitment," said Teri Hu of Fremont,
Calif., who has raised
single outnumbers married couples with children
|A story published
today by the New Haven Register reports that the household relationships, age and gender
statistics released by the U.S. Census Bureau today showed significant changes in the
makeup of American families over the last 10 years, including a continuation of the
50-year decline in married couples.
The report noted that only 51.7 percent of households contained both a husband and wife in
2000, down from 55 percent a decade ago and 78 percent in the 1950s. Also, people living
alone occupy 25.8 percent of American households, surpassing married couples with children
by more than 2 percent.
"It wont be long before the majority of the nations households are
unmarried," said Thomas F. Coleman, executive director of the American Association of
Single People. "Unmarried Americans are here to stay."
The changes in American households, though, were the most striking aspects of the
"Profile of General Demographic Characteristics for the United States: 2000."
Some experts say the decreases in married households arent just a result of more
divorces. Some couples are waiting to get married until later in life, even after they
have children. Others, including homosexuals, are choosing to forgo the ritual altogether.
Families maintained by women with no husband present increased three times as quickly as
married couple families in the last decade, making up 7.2 percent of all households.
Marc St. Camille, co-author of "Its Okay to be Single," said he hopes
people are no longer rushing into marriage just because theyre lonely. As a massage
therapist in New York City, St. Camille listened for years to clients stuck in deplorable
relationships because they couldnt bear to live alone.
"People shouldnt be married unless its a really great thing for them and
all the elements are in place," he said. "We never say its better to be
single, but you dont have to be miserable if you live alone."
The statistics were disheartening for the Family Research Council, a lobbying group that
promotes traditional family values and opposes single people living together before
marriage. Bridget Maher, the councils marriage and family policy analyst, suspects
that lower marriage rates lead to many of the countrys problems including poverty,
juvenile delinquency and teen pregnancy.
But Nancy Wise, who wrote "Are You Gonna Be In There All Night? 50 Great Reasons to
Love Living Alone" under the pen name Bobby Solo, says people need to look no further
than "Dear Abby" to see that marriage doesnt work for everyone.
"These are people who felt they had to find a mate regardless of what kind of mate it
was," she said. "A lot of people make bad decisions because they feel they
shouldnt live alone."
Unwed employees feel
shortchanged by workplace 'family oriented' policies
A story published today by the San Francisco Chronicle reports that in recent
years, singles have become more vocal about what they perceive as unfair treatment by
Single rights advocates argue that workers make up roughly 40 percent of the nation's
full-time workforce and should be able to enjoy the same health-care benefits, tax breaks
and other perks that married people enjoy.
Last year, author Elinor Burkett took up the fight for
singles equity in her book, "The Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the
Childless." No Kidding!, a nonprofit social club for childless singles and couples,
also is growing in popularity across the country. The group does not promote a particular
agenda, but its founding non-father, Jerry Steinberg, has strong opinions about how
employers "seem to be bending over backward trying to please child-burdened
According to employment experts, companies are now
creating workplaces that caters to everyone.
A survey conducted by the Society of Human Resource
Management found that one in five companies allows employees to bring children to work in
emergencies, and 17 percent offer child care referral services. Three percent of firms
surveyed provide on-site child care.
At the same time, employers are not simply catering to
families, but offering a wide array of options for workers who are single, single parents
or living with a domestic partner.
"While employers are trying to be more sensitive to
those with families, ultimately what they're trying to get at is work-life balance,"
said Kristin Bowl, spokeswoman for the Society of Human Resource Management, an
Alexandria, Va., association of human resource professionals. "That is a benefit
that's helpful for those with families and those without."
"They're trying to be inclusive, flexible and trying to
provide choices," she said. "It's not a perfect world, but the awareness is
Thomas Coleman, an attorney and executive director of the
American Association for Single People, said his goal is to spread the word to even more
employers. The association, a nonprofit organization that promotes equal rights for
unmarried adults, couples, parents and families, has embarked on a singles-friendly
campaign to explain some of the ways in which singles are discriminated against.
Single workers typically pay higher taxes and receive fewer
job benefits than their married counterparts, according to Coleman. Employers, he said,
should implement "cafeteria-style" benefits, which allow workers to choose
benefits that meet their individual needs - regardless of their living arrangements.
Fortunately for singles, Coleman said more companies are
beginning to adopt a different approach.
"Some of them (companies) went overboard a bit in
stressing so heavily family and children to the point where there's been some type of a
backlash," said Coleman, who met with Congressional leaders in Washington, D.C.,
earlier this month.
Mayid "Mickey" Ayyoub, who lives with a female
domestic partner in Sausalito, said that government, private and public companies should
be doing more to help singles get their fair share.
Ayyoub, who is a member of the American Association for
Single People, made headlines locally about four years ago when he filed a complaint
against the city of Oakland for denying health benefits to his partner, Sandra Washburn.
At the time, the city had a policy offering medical benefits
to city employees' same-sex partners. The city eventually changed its policy in 1998 to
include heterosexual domestic partners.
"Oakland had been enlightened about domestic-partner
status," said Ayyoub, 37. "It is a lifestyle that has to be respected. Just
because marriage is there, it shouldn't impact a domestic partner lifestyle. We are real
people with real lifestyles, and we want real respect."
Equity in the workplace is important, said Donna Lenhoff,
general counsel for the National Partnership for Women and Families in Washington, D.C.
However, many singles are missing the point about what family means, she said.
"Single people are also members of families. They may not have spouses or children,
but single people have parents and grandparents who often need care. They're often quite
involved in family responsibilities."
Although Melanie Dowe, 38, decided not to have children of
her own, she agrees that employers should support family-friendly policies. Dowe, senior
vice president of a global marketing research company in San Francisco, and her husband,
Robert Van Poederooyen, started a San Francisco/East Bay chapter of No Kidding! a year ago
to meet other childless couples.
"In my personal experience, I've not experienced that
kind of inequity," Dowe said. "Several of us believe those policies should be in
"The role of parents is a difficult one, and we admire
people that want to be parents. Workplaces have to recognize family issues in order to
keep good employees."
Monday, May 14, 2001
Study shows a decrease in marriages
and divorces in New Zealand
A story released today by the Xinhua News Agency reports that New Zealand saw fewer
marriages and marriage dissolutions in 2000 compared to the prior year.
Statistics New Zealand said in a media release here Monday that marriages registered in
2000 totaled 20,655, a decrease of 430 or 2 percent on the previous year in New Zealand,
which has a population of 3.8 million.
The 2000 figure is down 24 percent on the peak of 27,199 marriages in 1971. The rate of
marriage fell from 16.2 per 1,000 in 1999 to 15.6 per 1,000 in 2000. The latest marriage
rate is about a third of the peak level of 45.5 per 1,000 recorded in 1971.
The growth of de facto unions, the trend towards delayed marriage and a growing percentage
of New Zealanders remaining single have all contributed to the large drop in the marriage
The trend toward later marriage is also continuing. People marrying for the first time in
2000 were, on average, about six years older than their counterparts in 1971.
While women still tend to marry men older than themselves, the gap between their average
age at first marriage has narrowed, from three years in the mid-1960s to just over two
years in 2000.
Last year, 9,695 marriage dissolution orders were granted in Family Courts, compared with
9,936 in 1999. The divorce rate fell from 12.6 in 1999 to 12.3 in 2000.
The median age for divorce actions in 2000 was 41.6 years for men and 39 years for women.
The report noted that the divorce filers were on the average, three years older than those
who divorced a decade earlier.
Saturday, May 12, 2001
Tennessee judges clash over divorce
A story published today by the Tenessean reports that Tennessee Circuit Judge Russ Heldman
of Franklin is firing back at Tennessee Court of Appeals Judge William Koch in their
running disagreement over how hard it should be to get a divorce.
The Court of Appeals has reversed several rulings in which Heldman took an old-fashioned
view of ''the sanctity of marriage'' and ruled against husbands who, he felt, had
mistreated their wives.
In one sharply worded opinion, Koch said that Heldman had let his ''personal notions of
moral rectitude'' override the best interests of a Lewis County couple's children when he
denied visitation rights to the father as punishment for leaving his wife for another
Heldman balked last week at declaring a Williamson County couple divorced, as the Court of
Appeals had ordered him to do, and the Court of Appeals responded Monday with an order
staying further proceedings on the case in Heldman's court.
That prompted a 14-page order from Heldman, reiterating his reasons for leaving a
paralyzed woman's marriage intact -despite her husband's demand for a divorce - and
accusing Koch of being so ''biased and prejudiced'' that he should not hear any more
appeals from Heldman's court.
The case at issue is Clark Matthew Earls' attempt to divorce his wife, Shirley Ann Earls,
who was left paralyzed by an aneurysm in1997. Shirley Earls has said she wants to stay
married and on her husband's health insurance plan, even though she acknowledges they can
no longer live together.
Heldman ruled in 1999 that Clark Earls was not entitled to a divorce on grounds of
inappropriate marital conduct because there was no proof that Shirley Earls had done
anything wrong. But the Court of Appeals reversed Heldman last June in a 2-1 decision
written by Koch. The Tennessee Supreme Court decided in March not to get involved in the
case, and it was sent back to Heldman with instructions to declare the couple divorced.
Koch wrote last June that Heldman mistakenly viewed himself as ''the protector of the
institution of marriage'' when he refused to grant Clark Earls' request for a divorce.
Koch said that state law no longer favors ''condemning two persons to loveless marital
unions'' once a marriage is ''irretrievably broken.''
''While Ms. Earls had no control over the fact that she was injured, she did have control
over how she treated Mr. Earls,'' Koch wrote.
All three members of the Court of Appeals panel said that Heldman had exceeded his
authority when he ordered Clark Earls not to ''come around'' his baby sitter, ''period,''
as long as he was married. (Clark Earls said he had developed a nonsexual relationship
with the woman, whom he had asked to care for the couple's then 7-year-old son.)
But Court of Appeals Judge William Cain issued a dissenting opinion in which he said that
Koch and Judge Patricia Cottrell, the third member of the panel, had to stretch to find
that Shirley Earls was at fault in any way.
Heldman said in the order he issued Wednesday that he was still considering whether to
declare the couple divorced. The Court of Appeals has not yet acted on Clark Earls'
lawyer's request that it simply go ahead and grant the divorce on its own.
''My client does not have a lot of money,'' Clark Earls' lawyer, Robyn Ryan, said
yesterday. ''I do not want to waste his money or time. I am just trying to get him
Both Heldman and Koch declined to comment, citing the judicial canons of ethics, when they
were contacted by a reporter yesterday afternoon.
Higher divorce rate for women with
A story released today by Reuters reports that men are more likely to leave their spouses
with cancerous brain tumors, a U.S. researcher said on Saturday.
Dr. Michael Glantz said a study of 214 patients with brain tumors showed that women were
eight times more likely than men to experience a marital separation or divorce and that
men usually initiated the split.
Glantz, a neuro-oncologist at the University of Massachusetts, said it was ``very
alarming'' to find that men were leaving their wives at a time when they needed support to
cope with a deadly illness.
Patients with the type of brain tumor studied are likely to live only about a year after
Glantz said he had not yet evaluated the reasons behind the marital break-ups, but he gave
most men the benefit of the doubt that ``it's not because they are nasty people.''
``Women seem to be more willing or more adept at nurturing their husbands through an
illness, while men are not as skilled at doing the same for their
wives,'' he said.
Marriages were more likely to end when patients' tumors caused frontal lobe disease, a
condition that causes people to lose motivation and attentiveness. ``It's really hard to
put up with,'' Glantz told reporters attending a meeting of the American Society of
A marital split ``really changes your ability to treat a patient,'' Glantz added. Patients
living on their own may not have transportation to an appointment or might fear undergoing
treatment that would make them too tired to run their households alone.
Glantz also studied divorce rates among patients with other illnesses.
In 107 patients with multiple sclerosis, women were nearly seven times more likely than
men to become divorced or separated. And among 193 patients with other cancers, women were
12 times more likely to have that outcome.
Additional studies are underway to see whether counseling or something else might help
marriages endure in the face of serious illnesses. ``We don't think this has to be set in
stone. We are going to see if we can intervene early to prevent
that,'' Glantz said.
Friday, May 11, 2001
Manhattan school's decision to ban
Mother's and Father's day sparks mixed reactions
A story released today by ABC News reports that a lot has changed in the structure of the
American family since President Woodrow Wilson declared the second Sunday of May
Mother's Day on 1914. So when a Manhattan school "banned" Mother's - and
Father's - Day earlier this week, it kicked up a furor, with an article published in
the New York Post.
Parents of children at the Rodeph Sholom Day School, the daily reported, were in an uproar
over the new policy, which was aimed at protecting the feelings of children raised by
The "ban" was a case of political correctness running amok, the paper suggested,
and opponents of the move, such as Stanley Kurtz, a columnist at the National Review,
called it an attack on the very institution of motherhood.
"Give me a break," said Meema Spadola, director of the public television
documentary, Our House: A Very Real Document About Kids of Gay and Lesbian Parents, and
daughter of a lesbian mother. "I think their heart is in the right place, but
instead of getting rid of Mother's Day, it would have been a terrific opportunity to use
it instead to describe different family structures."
Certainly the American family is not what it used to be. Approximately 30 years ago, a
traditional household meant a dad, mom and the children. Today, over half of all American
children do not live in so-called traditional two-parent nuclear families.
According to Congressional Research Service reports, nearly 500,000 American children live
in foster care at any one time and approximately a million children in the United States
live with adoptive parents.
Estimates of children of gay, lesbian and bisexual parents in the United States vary from
6 to 10 million according to COLAGE (Children of Lesbians and Gays Everywhere).
Some experts believe that for these children, doing away with Mother's and Father's Day
celebrations at school may be a step in the right direction.
"I'm surprised that there's such a backlash because it's not about political
correctness, it's about sensitivity," said Laura Benkov, child psychologist and
author of Reinventing the Family (Crown, 1994).
Benkov believes that besides children of same sex parents, the move also benefits children
who have lost a parent.
But Jerald Newberry, executive director of the National Education Association Health
Information Network, disagreed. "Assignments that allow children to express their
thoughts and emotions can be healing," he said. "I don't think educators
traumatize children by giving them an opportunity to write letters to people who care
The problem for educators, said Newberry, is the baggage of value systems and prejudices
children bring from home.
The growing numbers of single parents - mostly mothers - many of whom work two jobs, also
means parents and guardians have less time to spend with their kids, Newberry says, and
impart early but crucial social and communication skills.
Given that it's tougher world in American homes, which makes it a tougher world in
American schools, Newberry believes any move towards sensitizing the school environment is
a positive one.
"If you see the basis of school violence, it is tied to name calling and bullying,
which comes out of ignorance," he said. "I think that this school is trying very
hard to be sensitive to the changing population in schools."
Thursday, May 10, 2001
Prime minister's marital status
intrigues japanese people
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that Japan's new prime minister is
different from his predecessors. Aside from enjoying rock music, his divorce status has
peaked the media's interest who are now hotly pursuing the story behind the split in his
The 59-year-old Junichiro Koizumi -- the first bachelor ever elected to Japan's top job --
has said little publicly about the separation.
In 1978, he married a student at an elite private university in Tokyo who was 15 years his
junior. They had three sons and divorced in 1982.
According to the Sunday Mainichi and Weekly Asahi tabloids, an aide pressured Koizumi to
break up with his wife for the sake of his political career.
Koizumi is a third generation politician who won his first seat in Parliament in his
His ex-wife, identified only by her first name, Kayoko, told the Weekly Asahi that she
didn't fit the mold of a political family.
"I didn't make enough of an effort and wasn't able to support him," she was
quoted as saying.
Koizumi has hinted that he has no intention of remarrying, saying repeatedly that it
"took more energy to get divorced than to get married."
Wednesday, May 9, 2001
Miserable marriage can hurt a woman's
A story published today by the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports that eating high-cholesterol
foods and avoiding exercise aren't the only ways women may be damaging their
cardiovascular health these days. A recent study shows that a miserable marriage can be
hazardous to the woman's heart.
In the latest study linking emotions and physical health, researchers from the University
of Pittsburgh explored whether the quality of a relationship affects a woman's well-being.
The research found that unhappily married women were at a much higher risk for
dying of cardiovascular disease. Stress from the deteriorating relationship could be a
risk factor for the early development of atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries, the
The findings of which were unveiled at a recent conference of the American Psychosomatic
Society, was one of the first to look at emotional stresses and the quality of a marriage,
rather than just marital status. Troxel said the findings help explain why marriage has
been shown to be good for women's health in some studies and not in others.
There's nothing new to the notion that stress can make a person sick and positive thoughts
can heal. But "until now, we haven't had the scientific tools to prove these
connections in a rigorous, scientific way," said Dr.Esther Sternberg of the National
Institute of Mental Health.
In the realm of heart disease, psychological factors are increasingly being recognized as
playing a significant role.
Other studies have shown that people who work in high-pressure jobs with little control
over their work are at increased risk of heart disease.
In Troxel's study, researchers decided to compare the health of women without a partner,
the health of women in a satisfying relationship and the health of women in a
"Most studies began in men, and findings are pretty consistent: Married men tend to
have lower mortality (rates) than unmarried men," Troxel said.
"Women are not as consistent, and the purpose was to look at the qualitative aspects.
Previous research suggests interpersonal stressors may be particularly relevant for
Janice Kiecolt-Glaser and Ronald Glaser of the Ohio State University College of Medicine
have long looked at physiological consequences of marital behavior. Last year,
Kiecolt-Glaser found that abrasive arguments between husbands and wives -- married an
average of 42 years -- were linked to a weakening of certain aspects of the couples'
"In terms of marriage, women are more attuned to negativity and more responsive to
physiological and psychological changes," said Kiecolt-Glaser, who is studying stress
and wound healing between couples to test the immune system.
Arizona governor repeals sex law
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that the Arizona law on unmarried
couples living together, sodomy and sex not intended to conceive children are no longer
crimes against the state.
Gov. Jane Hull signed the HB2016 Tuesday, repealing the archaic sex laws.
"Fundamentally, it came down to government not interfering in people's lives,"
Hull spokeswoman Francie Noyes said when announcing the decision.
"The governor and I agree that the state has no compelling interest in the lives of
consenting adults," said Rep. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, who sponsored the
"This has been a debate in the Legislature for the last 20 years," May
said."This ends the debate. Anybody that tries to proactively put them back onto the
books will be laughed out of office."
The Center for Arizona Policy, a Scottsdale-based conservative advocacy group, encouraged
people to call or e-mail Hull and ask her to veto the bill, leading to an avalanche of
"We're extremely disappointed," Cathi Herrod, an attorney and lobbyist for the
center, said. "It's another step in devaluing marriage as the foundation of our
Rep. Karen Johnson, R-Mesa, said Hull's decision puts the state's stamp of approval on
activities she disagrees with.
"For the state to now say to everyone, including young people, that there's nothing
wrong with this, from the policy standpoint it's just as wrong as can be,"
As of Monday, the governor had received more than 5,700 phone calls and e-mails offering
suggestions about what she should do.
"I think the pressure and the high feelings on both sides has been out-of-bounds as
far as the importance of the legislation versus what it really does," Hull said
Tuesday morning during a visit to Tucson. "I think that we've had a lot of people who
are very focused on that while I think about 98 percent of the state probably does not
even know the bill exists."
In a letter to House Speaker Jim Weiers, Hull said the sex laws are not enforced and
cannot be enforced.
"Keeping archaic laws on the books does not promote high moral standards; instead, it
teaches the lesson that laws are made to be broken," she said.
"Moral standards are set by families and those they turn to for guidance, such as
religious and community leaders. We learn much more from watching their behavior than from
any written laws or rules."
Minnesota Governor may offer
A story released today by PlanetOut reports that the Minnesota Senate decided not to
prevent the state's governor from offering state employees domestic partner benefits.
The Minnesota Senate cleared the way for Gov. Jesse Ventura to extend health benefits to
the same-sex partners of state employees.
By a 36-31 margin, the body voted to approve an amendment to a state finance bill that
will allow Ventura to put the benefits on the table during current negotiations with
employee unions. Governor Ventura has been fighting for the ability to offer
domestic partner benefits since last fall.
The Senate action was a reversal of its 37-29 vote on Monday to restrict benefits to
spouses, children and grandchildren of state employees.
Senators who backed the governor argued that legislators should not interfere with the
executive branch's ability to negotiate contracts.
"We're taking an extraordinary step ... an unprecedented step," the Pioneer
Press quoted Democratic Sen. Myron Orfield as saying.
Although the House must still take up the bill, the Senate's decision means that state
negotiators will likely be able to offer the benefits soon. Employees not covered by a
union, however, would still be ineligible for domestic partner coverage.
Tuesday, May 8, 2001
London study shows that women with
technology degrees are less likely to marry
A story published today by Ananova a publication from England reports that researchers
claim that women who undertake degrees in technology are least likely to marry.
The study by the Institute of Education in London has found more than 40% of female
technology graduates between 25 and 44 were unmarried.
The study also revealed that among women who graduated in natural sciences or non-science
subjects, the figure was 32%, while for those who studied subjects like medicine only 27%
"The marriage rates in health subjects may be high because the jobs they lead to tend
to have the most feminized environments - a more or less 50-50 female-male split in some
occupations." said Louisa Blackwell of the Institute of Education in London.
"In subjects such as medicine, where there are more women, they are in a position to
push through family-friendly work practices, offering more scope for lifestyle
flexibility." she added.
British conservative leader pledges
hard-line stance on unwed mothers on upcoming elections
A story published today in the Guardian Unlimited reports that British conservative
leader William Hague yesterday unveiled a series of hard-line policies in an attempt to
shore up the Tory vote in the local and general elections scheduled on June 7.
At the launch of the Tory manifesto for the local elections, Mr. Hague pledged to put
pressure on councils to make unmarried young mothers live at home rather than take up
precious public housing.
Mr. Hague hopes to encourage a high turnout on June 7 by pledging to introduce a series of
hard-line measures that will appeal to traditional Tory supporters.
The pledges unveiled in the local election manifesto provided a taste of the rightwing
policies which will form the centerpiece of the Tories' general election manifesto.
In a section in the local election manifesto, entitled Helping Teenage Mothers and
Families, the Tories pledged to scrap Labor plans to house unmarried teenage mothers in
"The first question when an unwed teenager is pregnant should not be whether there is
council flat for her, but whether her parents can support her and her child when she
finishes school or look for work," the manifesto said. "Councils and housing
associations need to think very carefully about the signals they send out when they
allocate social housing."
Threatening to remove the right of unmarried young mothers to a council flat might upset
some Tories on the left of the party.
They remember the embarrassment the party faced in the 1990s when the former social
security secretary, Peter Lilley, launched his notorious "little list" crackdown
on teenage mothers.
The Tory leadership also underlined a couple of key issues that addresses local concerns
in its determination to fight the elections from the right.
Monday, May 7, 2001
Brazilian same sex unions bill sparks
A story released by Reuters reports that Brazilian legislators are preparing to vote on a
bill on Wednesday that could legalize same sex unions in a country that has the world's
biggest Catholic population.
Gay rights activists hail the legislation which would allow homosexual couples to transfer
property assets and extend benefits like social security and health plans to partners.
Latin America's biggest country is considered socially progressive for the region, but the
bill could still face opposition from conservatives in Congress and a growing number of
evangelicals as well as the local Catholic church.
The project was first introduced in 1995 by Marta Suplicy, who was a federal deputy then
and is now the left-leaning mayor of Brazil's biggest city Sao Paulo, but failed to rally
"There is a lot of prejudice against anything that has to do with homosexuals and
within the gay movement there is a noisy sector that appears in the media in brides'
veils...that has affected the debate in Congress," says lawmaker Roberto Jefferson
who has reintroduced and modified the bill allowing the extension of benefits to any kind
of same-sex partner.
Despite the changes, legislators like Deputy Bishop Rodriguez, who heads up the
evangelical bench in Congress, said that passage of the bill could just be a first step
toward legalizing gay marriages -- a measure he staunchly opposes.
"Even though the project would not legalize same sex marriage it opens a door,"
Rodriguez said. "This goes against the natural laws dictated by God."
On the other side of the battlefield, gay rights activists have staunchly launched a
campaign defending the bill.
This time around, defenders of the bill have a point in their favor: since the legislation
was first introduced, courts in Rio Grande do Sul state have recognized the rights of gay
partners to receive health and social security benefits.
Still, most gay activists recognize the importance of ensuring the rights on a federal
"There is always the risk...of a homophobic judge finding a way to overlook the
rulings," said Caio Varela, a lawyer at Attitude Institute, which gives legal and
psychological assistance to homosexuals.
"With the law there would be nothing to discuss, the partnership would be clearly
defended," Varela said.
The bill will be voted in the lower house on May 9 and if approved it will go on to the
Sunday, May 6, 2001
Wisconsin now has more ways to collect
A story published today by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that Wisconsin's child
support agencies think they now have their best opportunity to enforce payments from
parents in arrears and reduce the sea of bad debt washing over the state's child support
system with new tools at their disposal.
Those new tools are the result of the Federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity
Without a court order, the Bureau of Child Support can attach a lien to houses and
property. At the time of sale, the child support debt becomes out of the proceeds.
Agencies can also seize bank and investment accounts now without court order. The back
child support amount is deducted from the accounts.
Fishing, hunting, driving and even professional licenses can also be placed under
suspension until the child support obligations are paid off.
"We are giving people every opportunity to come forward and settle up," said
Rachel Biittner, with the state Department of Workforce Development. "But if you
don't, we have the tools to get the money owed those families."
The child support lien docket started in October 2000. Anyone owing $30,000 was placed on
the docket, but that threshold has been slowly lowered; as of Saturday, anyone who owes
$15,000 will be placed on the docket, Biittner said.
John Hayes, Milwaukee County child support enforcement director, said his office recently
collected $82,000 through the lien docket.
"Holy smokes, it's great," he said. "The money is just rolling in. It is an
invaluable tool for us."
Washington County, on the other hand, netted $53,000 from one parent within the last few
months, according to Assistant County Attorney Christine Ohlis. The man was living out of
state and had been sent a letter about his debt.
He had been placed on the docket and he was selling property in Wisconsin," she said.
"He contacted us to cooperate in getting the child support debt paid off."
That payment was part of $397,437 collected so far under the docket program statewide.
Ohlis said the administrative tools help make the most of her staff's time.
"I'd love to have a bigger budget and more staff and investigators, but that's not
reality," she said. "The lien docket, license suspension - those types of
programs are wonderful, and the result is that we're getting tougher."
While lien dockets have produced the quickest results for agents, two account seizures are
pending, according to Biittner, with the owners of accounts recently receiving letters.
One parent owes $47,000 and authorities will seize that amount from an account worth
The license revocations will soon be fully implemented, she said. Local agencies will have
full discretion on whether to suspend professional licenses, going after everyone from
truckers to doctors. The agencies probably will use the tactic with some caution.
"It doesn't make a lot of sense to take away a person's livelihood when you want them
to pay child support," Biittner said.
When all else fails she said, there is always criminal prosecution to fall back on.
Saturday, May 5, 2001
Online visitation a new tool in
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that for better or worse, the
long-distance prowess of Internet technology is expected to play an expanding role as
divorce cases reach America's courtrooms. The pivotal question: Should the prospect of
``virtual visitation'' -- through e-mail, instant messages and video-conferencing -- make
it easier for a custodial parent to get permission to move?
A New Jersey appeals court broached this new legal frontier earlier this year. It ruled
that online visiting 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 over his
Eventhough the woman later decided against moving, the ruling intrigued family-law
specialists and alarmed fathers-rights advocates.
``This will be another tool for judges to further distance fathers from their children's
lives,'' said Stuart Miller of the American Fathers Coalition, whose group believes family
courts are biased in favor of mothers.
Legal experts think it's inevitable that custodial parents seeking to move will propose
virtual visitation in hopes of swaying judges.
``From now on, if I have clients who want to move, I'd tell them to offer to buy a (Web)
camera and set that up,'' said Norma Trusch, a family-law attorney from Houston.
``It's true that you can't hug a computer,'' said Trusch, quoting a mantra of virtual
visitation opponents. ``On the other hand, it's possible with these communication methods
to maintain a very close, continual relationship with a child.''
Linda Elrod, who chairs the American Bar Association's family law section, said judges
won't be able to ignore the new technology as they weigh conflicting pleas from divorced
Many divorced parents already use virtual visitation -- not under court order but because
it helps them maintain ties with faraway children.
Jim Buie, an Internet consultant from Takoma Park, Md., has published an online journal
about his efforts to stay in touch with his son, Matthew -- now 17 -- in the eight years
since Matthew and Buie's ex-wife moved to North Carolina.
``Virtual parenting is not a panacea. You're still going to have the heartache of not
being together,'' Buie said. ``But, alas, it's better than no relationship at all.''
Robert Whitfield of Reston, Va., has tried using the Internet to sustain a long-distance
relationship with two sons who moved with his ex-wife to New Jersey. He's concerned that
court-ordered Web visits could hurt dads in the long run.
``Gaining access to their children for most fathers is difficult at best,'' Whitfield
said. ``It is likely to become more difficult when a mother says to a judge: 'Johnny can
talk to his father on the computer whenever he wants to.'''
No federal laws govern move-aways; they are resolved case by case based on court
precedents and state legislation.
In recent years, some courts have made it easier for custodial parents to relocate. In
California, for example, a parent simply needs to demonstrate that a move is in the
child's best interest; in the past, there had to be urgent circumstances.
In other states, however, legislators have tightened move-away criteria. For example,
requiring a longer advance notice before a custodial parent can move.
``We're afraid the Internet will be seen as a trend to make move-aways easier -- we want
to make them harder,'' said David Levy, president of Children's Rights Council, which
promotes the rights of noncustodial parents.
Richard Crouch, a Virginia lawyer who formerly chaired the ABA's child custody committee,
said move-away cases have become ``part of the wars of sexual politics,'' with feminist
groups pressing to make relocation more commonplace.
The co-president of the National Women's Law Center, Nancy Duff Campbell, said her
Washington-based group believes courts should ease restrictions on move-aways.
``If there must be separation, it's something that can help the families,'' she said.
Friday, May 4, 2001
Texas doctors agree to urge abstinence
as best for young, single patients
A story published today in the Houston Chronicle reports that Texas doctors agreed Friday
to promote sexual abstinence as the best option for unmarried, adolescent patients
shifting their strategy in the war on teen-age pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease.
At the annual meeting of the Texas Medical Association's, delegates voted to change their
policy to say "the healthiest and most effective way to prevent pregnancy and
sexually transmitted infections in unmarried adolescents is abstinence." Their old
policy placed more emphasis on contraceptive choices.
"We hope this strong statement by the medical community will empower parents,"
said Dr. John Gill, a Dallas orthopedic surgeon who sponsored one of three pro-abstinence
resolutions combined into the one approved.
"We're not afraid to take a stand on risky behaviors such as drugs, smoking and
drinking and driving. There's no reason we should be afraid to take a stance on
Gill emphasized that the new policy is not abstinence only.
The policy is meant to guide TMA's public health advocacy efforts, not what individual
doctors tell their patients in practice.
The sponsors cited a recent federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study on
adolescent sexual behavior as evidence of the need for policy change.
Of more than 15,000 adolescent students studied by the CDC, their report found that nearly
half had had sexual intercourse and more than 16 percent had had sex with at least four
The issue sparked a lively debate, not over whether sexual abstinence should be part of
the policy but over its exact wording.
Dr. Jan Realini of San Antonio argued that saying abstinence is the "best"
preventative behavior might be misinterpreted as "religious or moral stands,"
and that there isn't "scientific evidence" to say it is the "most
Doctors approved the abstinence policy even though the committee that considered the three
proposed resolutions had recommended deferring them to another committee for further study
because of the lack of unambiguous data on the most effective methods of preventing
pregnancy and disease.
But Dr. Roland Goertz, a Waco family practitioner and chairman of the committee that
recommended deferral, said the final wording approved was his committee's fallback
Everyone on the committee, he said, agreed that abstinence needs to be better promoted but
felt they didn't have time to craft the best mechanism for that.
Goertz said the committee will continue studying what are the next best methods of
preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted infections.
The TMA policy says many contraceptive methods are suitable for teen-agers, though there
is "no ideal method that is 100 percent effective, free of side effects, inexpensive
and unencumbered by forethought or planning." It calls on doctors to identify
adolescents at risk for sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancy.
AASP pushes for tax rights
A story published today in the Minneapolis Star
Tribune reports that Kathleen O'Neill,a 45-year-old planning consultant from St.
Paul, says that she and 82 million other single adult Americans have not been
factored into the current tax debate.
"I've noticed it since the presidential election,"
said O'Neill, "With all the references to family, singles and unmarried Americans are just being dismissed."
Democrats champion "working families"; Republicans
honor "family values." But one mostly overlooked fact in the discussion of the
so-called marriage penalty is that just as many married couples enjoy a "marriage
A three-day lobbying push this week by singles-rights
organizations in Washington underscores how the tax debate has been pulled in opposite
directions by two trends: the tremendous increase in the number of two-earner families and
the rapid growth of nontraditional families led by unmarried
"All we hear about is families, families,
families," said Stephanie Knapik, spokeswoman for the American Association of Single
People (AASP), a lobby group for singles. "And we're just ready to gag."
The Los Angeles-based AASP says singles also feel
discrimination in estate taxes, which favor only spouses -- not domestic partners,
friends, significant others, or even other relatives.
"If you give [the estate] to your spouse, it's OK,"
Knapik said. "But if you give it to anyone else, it's taxed."
There are those who are unapologetic about the tax code's
bias in favor of marriage. Former Rep. Bill Archer, a Texas Republican who led the House
Ways and Means Committee, once said of the tax disparity, "We unabashedly help
The AASP, which has members in Minnesota, also lauds
that goal, but notes that many single people also are raising kids. To help parents, it
says, there are child tax credits.
What the AASP wants is a marriage-neutral tax code. AASP
executive director Thomas Coleman asks, "why should Congress be trying to encourage
or discourage that highly personal choice" of marriage?
One reason, he says, is that married people vote at higher
rates than singles. Although single people make up 40 percent of the voting age
population, he said, they were only 36 percent of the vote in last year's presidential
He also says that standing up for families makes political
sense for many legislators. Take Minnesota Rep. Bill Luther, normally a loyal Democrat.
Democratic leaders in Congress opposed Bush's proposal to reduce the marriage penalty,
saying it cost too much and benefited even those married couples who don't pay a penalty.
But Luther's east Twin Cities suburban district has about
80,000 tax-paying married couples affected by the Bush plan, the largest number of any
congressional district in the state. Last month, he joined 64 other House Democrats in
voting for Bush's marriage tax relief.
Other Minnesota House members were more skeptical. Rep.
Collin Peterson, D-Minn., who sided with Bush on his across-the-board income tax rate
cuts, nevertheless declined to defect from his party's ranks on marriage tax relief.
With delays in marriage, widespread divorce and women living
longer, unmarried America also keeps growing. In 1970, the
census counted 37.5 million unmarried adults, then 28 percent of all adults. In a 2000 census survey, the number
of unmarried adults was more than 81.5 million, or 40
In Minnesota, single tax filers accounted for 48 percent of
all tax returns in 1999, according to the state Revenue Department.
One of them was from O'Neill, who sees the tax advantages
bestowed upon married couples as one of a number of subtle societal slights that treat
singles as something less than whole people.
"On a basic level, we don't respect individuals to be
what they want to be," O'Neill said. And while she's open to marriage, "we have
to become more inclusive of what the American Dream can be."
Illinois premarital counseling bill
fails in committee
A story published today by the Herald News reports that Chicago divorce lawyer Gemma
Allen, believes that couples planning to marry should have to take four hours of Marriage
101 before their wedding day and she wants a state law to enforce it.
Such a bill passed in the Illinois Senate last month. But on Wednesday, it failed 8-4 in
the House's civil judiciary committee, missing a key deadline. The bill is now being
amended with hopes it can get an extension and pass this session.
One obstacle to this proposal has been the county clerks who oppose the plan. Enforcing
it, they say, would create hardships. It's a mandate without money to carry it out. And
Will County Clerk Jan Gould adds this question: Is it really the government's business,
But now, these opponents might be out of the equation. Allen understands many of their
concerns, and is coming up with a revision that doesn't include county clerks.
Instead, judges or clergy people would find out if a person got premarital counseling,
under an amended bill Allen is proposing.
Still, one concern doesn't carry any weight with Allen: the one about whether it's the
Nationwide, there are 1 million children affected each year by divorce, and $150 billion
is spent in federal and state dollars to support and subsidize single-parent families.
"People say, 'I don't want government in marriage. Then teach people how to do it
better. Once there's a divorce, government is all over marriage," Allen said.
The failed bill would have required couples to have four hours of premarital education to
get their marriage license without delay. If couples refused the premarital education,
they would have to wait 60 days before the county clerk would issue them a license.
"I can see this scenario," Gould said. "A couple coming in and having this
big wedding planned. It's a first-class wedding, and I'm going to have to tell them
...they can't get married next week or next day because they don't have a (pre-marriage
Allen's amended bill would shorten the delay to 45 days and assign responsibilities to
judges or clergy people.
Clerks would give out marriage licenses, but a clergy person or judge would request that
couples sign an affidavit saying they took a premarital education class in order to get
married within 45 days.
Licenses are valid for 60 days. If they have their premarital education, they can get
married immediately or they can wait 45 days.
Allen said the amended version also would include people who are indigent and can't afford
premarital education. They would be excluded from the requirement.
Allen said county clerks have agreed to put a handout in their booklet regarding the
statute, but won't be required to implement it.
Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, and Rep. Mark Beaubien, R-Barrington Hills, are sponsoring
Pastor James Dougherty, of St. Paul of the Apostle Church in Joliet, thinks premarital
counseling is a good idea.
"Marriage is for adults, and they need to assume the responsibilities and duties of
marriage so we go into the areas of finance, spirituality, communication, conflict
resolution, family planning and church attendance," Doughtery said.
Divorce has a lifelong effect on children, said Allen, who is divorced and remarried.
"Children of divorce haven't seen enough people get through a lifetime commitment -
they're adverse to commitment because they're afraid after seeing the pain of
divorce," she said.
"We do know kids from divorced homes suffer as children, and they suffer as
adults," said Jim Kubalewski, executive director of the Family Counseling Agency in
Joliet. "When you divorce, that's not private anymore, and when children don't have
parental support and father support, and are on public aid - that's not a private issue.
It's a societal issue. When prisons are filled with men and woman who did not have fathers
at home, this is a public issue."
Wednesday, May 2, 2001
Bush pushes reform of Social Security
A story published today by the Minneapolis Star Tribune reports that President Bush made
his case for private Social Security accounts Wednesday, saying younger workers
"might as well be saving their money in their mattresses," considering the
return they now get from the program's investments.
"And the return will only decline further, maybe even below zero if we do not proceed
with reform," said Bush, who named a commission to recommend ways to fix the system.
Members include both Republicans and Democrats who favor partially privatizing the federal
retirement plan. Democratic leaders oppose that idea.
The commission is to present its findings to Bush in the fall, and should include a plan
to allow younger workers to invest a portion of their payroll taxes in private accounts,
he said. Any recommendation would be subject to congressional approval.
The White House acknowledged that Bush stacked the commission with members who favor
privatization, saying "it should surprise no one" that Bush wanted a commission
that would embrace his ideas about preserving Social Security.
Co-chairmen for the commission will be former Democratic New York Sen. Daniel
Patrick Moynihan and Richard Parsons, AOL Time Warner's co-chief operating officer.
"This is a stacked, completely orchestrated effort to come to a desired result,"
said Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle.
By 2016, Social Security is expected to start paying out more than it collects because of
the increase of baby boom retirees. The fund will run out of cash after 2038.
Bush has proposed salvaging the program by letting younger workers voluntarily invest some
of their payroll taxes in private accounts. Supporters say the stock market will provide a
much greater return over time.
Opponents, however, point to recent stock market volatility as a reason not to have such
accounts. They also argue the private accounts would drain too much money from the
"After the last six months in the stock market I am shocked that the president would
really be trying to move forward with this proposal," House Minority Leader Dick
The optimistic scenario is to get a bill to Congress by year's end for quick action before
next year . But Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute, a Washington think tank promoting
privatization, said that more realistically, the issue likely would be tackled in 2003.
Partial privatization of social security is one way to eliminate the system's unfairness
to unmarried workers. Under the current system, all benefits are forfeited when an
unmarried worker dies, although a surviving spouse may collect benefits for many years
after a married worker dies. With partial privatization, unmarried workers would own a
portion of their benefits and could pass them on to a beneficiary after their death.
Some unmarried workers oppose the idea of partial privatization, however, fearing that
unmarried workers who make bad investments will be worse off under such a system than they
are with the current system.
Scholars with varying viewpoints
dispel marriage myths and oversimplifications
A story published today by the Boston Globe reports that prominent scholars met in New
York April 27-May 1 to explore differing views on marriage, divorce, and cohabitation. The
conference, sponsored by the Council on Contemporary Families and organized around the
theme, ''Beyond the Marriage Wars.''
The researchers noted that on average, married people are healthier and better off
economically than single or divorced individuals, and their children do better
psychologically. ''But when researchers study average outcomes,'' pointed out University
Of Pennsylvania sociologist Frank Furstenburg, a senior research associate at the Council
on Contemporary Families, ''we often overgeneralize about small differences that are not
evenly distributed within the population we're discussing. When these differences are
translated into sound bites, they produce excessive anxiety and guilt for parents and
often result in bad public policy.''
For example, while happy marriages provide significant emotional rewards and health
benefits, unhappy marriages do not, and they seem to harm women more than men, so that
making divorce harder to get is not necessarily a protection for women. High conflict in a
marriage, researchers agreed, is generally worse for kids than divorce, while children in
low-conflict marriages are often disadvantaged by divorce.
But while panelists advocated providing more counseling for such parents, they rejected
the idea of pressuring such couples into staying married.
CCF Research Fellow Philip Cowan, director of the Institute for Human Development at the
University of California at Berkeley, also reported that in the longitudinal studies of
married couples he and Carolyn Pape Cowan have investigated, some children in
low-conflict, cold marriages perceived their parents as having high-conflict marriages.
Robert-Jay Green, Director of the Alternative Families Project, commented that in his
clinical experience, low-conflict, disengaged marriages often end in affairs, which might
well turn them into high conflict marriages, the worst scenario for children, if they did
not have the option to divorce.
As Cowan summed up the conference consensus, ''The debate on marriage so far has been
polarized in ways that allow people on both sides to avoid thinking about the services
families really need. One side says make divorce harder; the other says accept family
diversity. These are cheap, easy, and ultimately ineffective responses. We need to help
more marriages work by giving couples more access to counseling and alleviating the
stresses they face in today's work world. But we also need ways to help stepfamilies
succeed and unmarried or divorced parents work more effectively with their children.''
Conference participants also pointed out several other facts and trends that are
often distorted in popular debates over family life:
Divorce rates are not at an all time high, but have fallen by 26 percent since their peak
in 1981, according to sociologist Steven Nock of the University of Virginia.
Almost half of the children in ''single parent'' families actually live with both
biological parents, reported two separate researchers, Sarah McLanahan of Princeton
University and Andrew Cherlin of John Hopkins.
Marriage rates may be 43 percent lower today than in 1960, said Stephanie Coontz, national
co-chair of CCF, but in 1890 they were also 43 percent lower than in 1960. ''It may make
dramatic headlines, but it doesn't help us understand what's happening to marriage if we
compare everything to the year when marriage rates reached their all-time historical
It's not marriage per se, but two-income marriages that protect children from economic
Barbara Risman, co-chair of CCF with Coontz, heralded the conference as a breakthrough for
reasoned discussion over simplistic slogans, and vowed that the organization would try to
reach the press and policy-makers to explain why ''today's family issues are too complex
to be settled by one-size-fits-all responses.''
Pair fights 1846 Michigan law that
won't let them marry
A story published today by the Detroit Free Press reports that Holly Garcia and Jerome
Huizar wedding plans came to a screeching halt last week when the couple went to apply for
a marriage license and were told they couldn't legally wed.
Michigan law makes it illegal for a developmentally disabled person or a person with a
guardian to marry. Huizar, who has Down syndrome and is mildly retarded, has a guardian.
Garcia does not have a guardian, but is mildly retarded and has Williams syndrome, a
genetic condition similar to Down.
Crushed at the rejection, Garcia and Huizar decided to fight back.
"Handicapped people have rights, too," Garcia said."People shouldn't stop
anyone from getting married because they're handicapped."
Huizar, with the help of the nonprofit Michigan Protection & Advocacy Service Inc.,
filed a request in Tuscola County Probate Court to have his guardians, who are his brother
and sister, removed.
He was unsuccessful and has appealed to the Tuscola Circuit Court.
Advocates for the disabled, meanwhile, are fighting to change state laws. Sen. Beverly
Hammerstrom, R-Temperance, introduced a bill that would remove an 1846 law that makes it a
felony punishable by up to 5 years in prison for people it calls "imbeciles" to
marry. The bill (Senate Bill 67) has made its way through the Senate and is expected to
soon pass the House.
A second bill dealing with marriage for people with guardians was also introduced in March
by Sen. Glenn Steil, R-Grand Rapids. This bill would permit a person with a guardian to
marry while giving the guardian the opportunity to object. The bill is in a Senate
committee and is expected to be worked on this summer.
People with guardians are considered legally incapacitated and therefore unable to enter
into contracts. But Kathleen Harris, Huizar's attorney, said the contract of marriage is
not like a financial contract.
"Marriage is a fundamental right. I don't think you can blanket take it away from
someone," she said.
Tuesday, May 1, 2001
Survey shows young single women avoid
saving for the future
A story released today over PR Newswire reports that a new national survey found that
young single women realize the importance of saving and investing but are more inclined to
spend, according to the results of a national survey.
The survey was commissioned by Oppenheimer Funds, Inc., one of the nation's leading mutual
fund families, and was conducted in association with Third Millennium, an advocacy group
for young Americans, and the Sutra Foundation, a
non-profit foundation that seeks to empower Gen X women through financial education.
"Savings and investing-wise, single Gen X women are where women in general were a
decade ago -- increasingly empowered and aware but not doing what they should," said
Bridget A. Macaskill, Oppenheimer Funds chairman and CEO.
"Money management is a fundamental issue for Gen X women," Macaskill said.
"Look at the ledger: longer life expectancy and lower earnings than men, movement in
and out of the workforce, family responsibilities, high debt accumulation. It all adds up
to the fact that women must save early, invest aggressively and spend less."
The Oppenheimer Funds survey of single Gen X women was part of a larger survey of 1,205
Americans ages 21 to 34 conducted by the national polling firm of Yankelovich Partners,
Inc. It included 803 women, of whom 401 were single. Of the 401 single women surveyed, 69%
were single and living alone, 14% were living with a significant other, 14% were divorced
or separated and 3% widowed. The survey also included 231 single men.
While single women think about retirement -- and may even believe that they are
successfully saving for it -- their desire for short-term gratification takes precedence.
Of the women surveyed, one half of single women said that at this point in their lives
money is for spending and not saving, three out of four said it was important to look
successful and 54% said they were likely to accumulate 30 pairs of shoes before
accumulating $30,000 in retirement savings.
Partly as a result of these spending patterns, significantly more single young women (53%)
say they live paycheck to paycheck than do single young men (42%).
"The message aimed at young women and young men alike is spend, spend, spend -- not
save, save, save," said Vanessa Summers, founder of the Sutra Foundation. "From
beer to fashion to credit, consumption is sexy. Like the Carrie Bradshaw character on Sex
and the City, single young women value looking good -- and spend to make sure they
Summers said that credit card debt is a major issue for Gen Xers -- single women in
particular. "Credit card debt is a 10-lb weight around the necks of many Gen Xers,
and if we're not careful, it will take us under," Summers said. "Financial
services providers should market saving and investing with all the savvy and imagination
with which they sell credit cards to young people."
Single Gen X women say they would save more with a little guidance and encouragement.
Two-thirds of Gen X single women not currently saving for retirement said learning how to
better manage their debts would strongly motivate them to start saving.
When it comes to saving for retirement, single women have a lengthy road ahead, as they
have the least amount saved for retirement of those surveyed. The typical Gen X single
woman -- as described by the median or middle response -- has $4,000 in retirement
Encouragingly, only 17.5% of the single women surveyed say they have no retirement assets.
Of those with retirement dollars, savings accounts are the most popular option, used by
66%, followed by company pension plans (35%) and 401(k) or 403(b) plans, 27%. Almost half
of single women surveyed -- 47% -- say they are satisfied with the amount of money they
are currently saving.
Experts say employer-sponsored retirement plans are probably the best way to engage Gen
Xers in saving and investing.
"Our generation faces the longest and steepest climb to retirement --and no one faces
a longer or steeper climb than single women," said Richard Thau, president of Third
Millennium, the Gen X advocacy group. "These women need to start saving soon or face
a harsh retirement reality decades from now."
"For most of us, the first real investment decision we're asked to make is whether or
not to participate in our employer-sponsored retirement plan, and, if so, how much we'll
contribute," Thau said. "With only a third of GenXers participating in these
plans, it's clear that too many of us are making the wrong choices."
Forty-seven percent of single Gen X women surveyed said they are "not very
knowledgeable" about investing -- versus 33% of single Gen X men. Forty-four percent
of single young women rate their money management abilities at five or less on a ten point
scale -- compared to 39% of single men.
Only one in five (21%) single young women say they use a financial advisor. By far
and away, family and friends are the primary source of investment guidance for most single
young women, cited by 43% of those surveyed. It was followed by financial advisors (17%),
their employer (11%) and the media (11%).
The survey also found that while single young women have been slow to engage financial
advisors, their attitudes toward them have improved dramatically. Thirty-four percent of
single young women believe women are treated with as much respect by financial advisors as
men are -- that compares with 25% in Oppenheimer Funds' 1992 research.
"In recent years, financial advisors have played a growing role in encouraging and
helping women to take responsibility for their finances," Macaskill said, "We
think there is a particular opportunity for advisors with the current generation of young
"Young women today are much more financially aware and motivated than previous
generations. At the same time, they are overly reliant on the investment opinions of
family and friends -- opinions that are well-intentioned but not necessarily
well-informed," Macaskill said. "That's why we believe young women constitute a
natural constituency for professional financial advice."
Arizona legislators approves repeal of
A story published today by the Arizona Republic reports that seven years after lawmakers
first tried to repeal the state's century-old sex laws, the Legislature on Monday approved
taking the laws off the books.
With an 18-11 vote, the Senate gave their final approval to send House Bill 2016 to the
"Lawmakers have finally recognized the inappropriateness of the government regulating
behavior between consenting adults," said Kathie Gummere, a lobbyist for the Arizona
Human Rights Fund, a group that supported the bill.
But the bill's fate on the governor's desk is unclear.
Francie Noyes, a spokesperson for Gov. Jane Hull, said that the governor has received more
calls regarding archaic sex laws than any other issue this session, all urging Hull to
veto the bill.
"The governor keeps her own counsel on these things, and she hasn't told anybody yet
what she plans to do," Noyes said.
The measure, sponsored by Rep. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, repeals laws that make
cohabitation, sodomy and any non-procreational sex acts illegal.
The bill deletes clauses that list "open and notorious cohabitation," the
"infamous crime against nature" and any "lewd or lascivious act . . .
with the intent of arousing, appealing to or gratifying the lust, passion or sexual
desires" as illegal.
The misdemeanor is punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine. Under the new law,
adultery would still remain a crime.
Critics called the bill an attack on the traditional family and immoral.
Sen. Scott Bundgaard, R-Glendale, voted against the bill, saying that repealing the laws
would be akin to "normalizing the acts."
May said the laws are ambiguous and used as a discriminatory tool and keep unmarried
couples from getting a tax break.
Monday, April 30, 2001
Fatherhood: involvement in the baby's
A story released today by United Press International reports that Columbia University
professor Ron Mincy addressed the effects of "fatherlessness" at a forum titled
"Connecting Fathers and Families" at the Thurgood Marshall Center Monday.
The program at the former YMCA building was organized by the centrist Democratic
Leadership Council and underwritten by the Freddie Mack Foundation.
Mincy summarized new data about the paternal influence on the mother's prenatal care, a
father's involvement with his baby one year after its birth and in the child's education.
Mincy stated that fathers, particularly married fathers, play an important role in
reducing smoking and drinking among expectant mothers. But this influence decreases
"as the relationship becomes more tenuous."
The key variable affecting whether a father is actively involved in his child's life a
year after the baby's birth is whether the other wanted to marry the father at the time of
birth, Mincy said.
If the mother wanted to marry the father, the man's involvement increased dramatically. Of
the men the mothers wanted no involvement with, only 30 percent remained highly involved
with their children one year after the baby's birth.
Economic factors also play a role in relationships.
Among blacks, a man's economic situation determines whether a woman wants to marry the
father of her child, Mincy said. Employed men have a 300 percent advantage over their
But even if a man has a job, black mothers are still 15 percent less willing than women in
other populations to marry the father of their child.
Black married fathers behave as well as any others, Mincy said, but only about 11 percent
of black fathers are married to their children's mother one year after the child's birth.
With 70 percent of African-American babies now born out of wedlock, Mincy said, the
likelihood is low that their fathers will be involved in their education.
The good news is that students do better -- and are better behaved -- if even
non-custodial fathers maintain involvement in their schoolwork. "It's not just
contact," Mincy said, "it's what fathers actually do."
The United States has undergone a longstanding retreat from marriage, the professor said.
The policy problem is figuring out how to increase marriage and marriage prospects. So far
"nothing trumps the economic status" of the man, he said.
Theodora Ooms, senior policy analyst at the Center for Law & Social Policy, agreed
that the retreat from marriage is a national problem.
Thirty percent of U.S. babies are born to unwed mothers, she said.
Ooms said a good marriage is the surest path to responsible fatherhood, and policymakers
should "stop tiptoeing around the 'm' word." Ooms outlined what she thinks are
six causes of the retreat from marriage.
(1) Women's entry into the labor force. (This is not so relevant for blacks, she
said, because black women have always worked.)
(2) The disruptive effect of the old welfare system, which paid benefits only to
households without men.
(3) The sexual revolution and the decline of "shotgun marriages."
(4) Among blacks, the literal shortage of men with so many dead or imprisoned.
(5) Relationships between men and women now are freighted with unrealistic
expectations, especially that the partner is supposed to make you happy.
(6) Increasingly, fewer and fewer people have witnessed the ups and downs of intact
marriages in which the partners work things out.
Nevertheless, Ooms said, marriage is still held in very high esteem, even where marriage
rates are low.
It's not easy to reverse trends, the policy analyst said, and no one program will work to
promote healthy marriages. However, it is important to target couples right before the
time of birth.
Moderating the event was the DLC chairman, Sen. Evan Bayh, D-Ind., who has been a
proponent of responsible fatherhood since his days as Indiana governor. In his opening
remarks, the senator said that men have been irresponsible and women have been heroic.
Bayh's Congress member, Rep. Julia Carson, D-Ind., however, took another approach.
Many "deadbeat" fathers are actually "dead broke," she said. Carson
said she knows it's not all men's fault. Some mothers accept child support but refuse
fathers to form relationships with their children, she said, and some women drive a wedge
between children and their fathers.
Sunday, April 29, 2001
Visits to Bahrain by single women
A story released today by Reuters reports that Bahrain would restrict visits by single
women to the conservative Gulf Arab state.
An Information Ministry official reported that single women wishing to visit Bahrain must
obtain visas from Bahrain's embassies abroad or through companies employing them rather
than waiting to receive visas at the airport, as most foreigners do.
"Women travelling alone will not be given visas upon arrival at the airport,"
the official told Reuters.
The move applies only to women, the official said, adding that families, couples and men
would be granted visas on arrival. It was not immediately clear whether the restriction
applied only to unmarried women, or to all women travelling alone, regardless of their
Friday, April 27, 2001
Arizona lawmakers approve the repeal
of century-old state sex laws
A story published today by the Arizona Republic reports that the Arizona Senate approved a
measure to end Arizona's century-old sex laws and allow more couples to claim each other
as dependents on their taxes.
The laws, which were drafted in the early 1900s, make unmarried cohabitation, sodomy and
sex that is not intended to produce children illegal.
The Senate approved the measure, HB 2016, on a 17-11 vote.
Sen. Rusty Bowers, R-Mesa, said the bill would lower the status of marriage and called the
measure "a direct attack on the family."
"The basic fundamental contract of marriage is being challenged this day," he
said. "It's because people don't exercise more self-discipline that more laws are
Supporters of the repeal say the laws are outdated and used to discriminate against
homosexuals and unmarried couples.
"The language in the current statute goes beyond laughable," Sen. Mary Hartley,
D-Phoenix, said about the law's reference to the "infamous crimes against
nature" and "open and notorious cohabitation."
The bill's sponsor, Rep. Steve May, R-Paradise Valley, argues that the law prevents some
unmarried couples from taking advantage of a tax break that allows one to claim the other
as a dependent on state or federal tax forms under certain circumstances.
Because the repeal would change tax law, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee estimates
as much as a $670,300 fiscal price tag.
With formal passage in both houses, the bill has been sent to Gov. Jane Hull's office for
approval. The governor, however, wouldn't comment Thursday on whether or not she will sign
Tax code should be simplified
A story published by the New York Times reports that while there is wide disagreement on
whether and how much to cut taxes in the United States, there is wide agreement that the
country's tax system must be simplified.
The issue has received little attention in Congress this year, but the Senate Finance
Committee is holding hearings on tax simplification for individuals.
Tax specialists from various political and economic viewpoints said the task would be
"We need tax simplification," said Nina Olson, the taxpayer advocate at the
Internal Revenue Service. "But simplification will not be simple." Those
questioned about it emphasized many of the same solutions: Ease the rules defining family
status or tax individuals instead of families, revise the alternative minimum tax so it
again applies to the rich instead of the middle class, eliminate all but one of the rules
that phase out tax breaks as income rises and replace the complicated form used to report
capital gains with a single line on tax returns.
The first place to address complexity is by getting the tax system out of the business of
deciding who is a family, said William Niskanen, chairman of the Cato Institute, a
libertarian research group in Washington.
"We ought to move from taxing a family unit to taxing individuals," said Mr.
Niskanen, who was a senior Reagan administration tax official. "If we do that, we do
not need special provisions on marriage penalties."
Ms. Olson said whether one is married, single or head of a household, and who gets the tax
credits and deductions for children after a marriage collapses, add unnecessary burdens on
taxpayers and on the Internal Revenue Service.
Many tax experts say that the area most in need of reform is the alternative minimum tax,
which no longer applies to the people it was designed for, wealthy individuals who make
aggressive use of tax shelters and deductions.
Congress abolished most tax shelters for individuals in 1986, but it did not adjust the
minimum tax for inflation, so today it does not apply to those making more than $350,000.
However, it does apply to a small but growing segment of the middle and upper-middle
classes as well as some single mothers making just $28,000.
Last year a million people paid the tax, Treasury Department specialists estimate. Under
current law the tax will apply to 21 million taxpayers. That would grow to 36 million
under President George W. Bush's tax cut plan, according to an analysis by the
congressional Joint Committee on Taxation, including about 80 percent of those making
80,000 to $200,000 annually.
Under Mr. Bush's plan, families with more than four children, people who live in
higher-tax states such as New York and California and people who spend more than 7.5
percent of their income on medical bills would be affected by the alternative minimum tax.
But the alternative minimum tax does not apply to those who would get the biggest tax
breaks under Mr. Bush's plan, the top 1 percent of taxpayers, who would receive in full
the tax breaks he favors.
Several tax specialists said treating children as tax shelters, as the alternative minimum
tax does, was unjustified. "I don't think anyone believes children are a tax
shelter," said Charles Davenport, a Rutgers University law professor and editor in
chief of Tax Notes, a weekly magazine.
A White House spokesman, Ken Lisaius, said, "It is very clear a problem exists with
the alternative minimum tax, and the president is very sympathetic about the problem, but
he believes Congress should tackle first the priorities he has set, to reduce marriage
penalties and marginal tax rates and repeal the estate tax."
Congress has handed out tax breaks to parents, college students and the working poor, but
each break has its own income limits and its own rules, which often conflict with other
rules. The result is that many people are denied these breaks or cannot figure out how to
get them or, if they do, join the dwindling number of taxpayers who are audited.
Mr. Niskanen said, he would eliminate the rules that phase out these credits. He believes
that if Congress wants to give a tax credit for a child it should do so without regard to
whether the child's parents are rich or poor.
The phasing out of personal exemptions and tax credits pushes people into higher tax
brackets than the six official rates of 0, 15,28, 31, 36 and 39.6 percent. Some
middle-class taxpayers, however, pay 80 cents in taxes on their last dollar of income,
according to a comprehensive study of these phase-out rules and marginal tax rates by
Elliott Manning, a law professor in Coral Gables, Florida.
Thursday, April 26, 2001
AASP marches on to the nation's
A story published today by the Hartford Courant reports
that AASP, the latest civil rights movement fomenting in Southern California will
bring its new millennium message to the nation's capital next week: Equal rights under tax
law for the country's 82 million "unmarrieds."
Call it the revenge of the Bridget Jones brigade, or a
backlash to married and married-with-kids tax and workplace benefits. The nonprofit
American Association for Single People is vowing to "break the silence" about
discrimination against those without a marriage certificate.
"Something is bubbling up here," said Thomas F.
Coleman, the association's director. "People are getting sick of hearing about
`working families.' Employers don't hire working families, they hire working people."
The association is calling for changes in tax law that would
allow unmarried couples to file joint tax returns and to qualify for tax deductions for
children they may be rearing. It also wants Congress to ease taxes on the estates of
single people and to revise the Social Security tax structure to give a break to single
"We're not trying to tell Congress what to do, we just
want to focus on the concerns of unmarried people,'' he said, while legislators are
considering tax reforms that include the repeal of the so-called marriage penalty and an
examination of the Social Security system.
Last Monday, the association ran a nearly full-page ad
in the Washington Post seeking members and outlining its concerns under the headline,
"82 Million Unmarried Americans Deserve to Know Why."
Tax experts, however, say that some of the assertions made by
the association are overblown, and that making generalizations about how any particular
group is taxed is risky.
"Nothing is absolute - it's all gray,'' said Robert
Fochi, a certified public accountant from South Glastonbury, Conn. "That's the way
taxes are, and that's the way life is.
"There are so many variables that you can say just about
anything, and you can be correct,'' he said.
For example, the association's assertion that the estates of
unmarried people are taxed up to 60 percent while the estates of married people can pass
tax-free to a surviving spouse is true, Fochi said.
However, the typical estate tax kicks in only when estate
assets hit $675,000 or more, he said. For estate taxes to approach the 60 percent
mentioned in the association's ad, the assets left would have to be in the range of $10
million to $17 million.
"We're not talking a lot of people,'' Fochi said.But
Coleman argues that to avoid inequities, the tax code, as well as benefits plans offered
by employers, should be "marital status neutral."
With the number of unmarried adults doubling over the past 30
years, Coleman says he hopes the association grows to become a voice for single people in
much the same way the 34 million-member American Association for Retired People represents
"Even AARP started around a kitchen table in Ojai,
Calif.,'' he said, acknowledging, however, that unmarried people are a "moving
target, a little harder to capture."
Wednesday, April 25, 2001
Georgia couple uses Vermont civil
union to challenge Defense of Marriage Act
A story released today by CNS News reports that a year after Vermont became the first
state in the union to grant marriage rights to same-sex partners, a lesbian couple is
seeking to have a civil union they obtained in Vermont recognized in their home state of
This is the first case of its kind where a person holding a Vermont civil union has
attempted to enforce it outside of the state of Vermont, said Mathew Staver, president and
general council of Liberty Council, a legal group.
When civil unions legislation was passed in Vermont a year ago this date, lawmakers
rejected appeals to make state residency a requirement for couples to qualify.
Now a Georgia couple, Susan Burns and Debra Jean Freer, is asking a state appeals court to
recognize a Vermont civil union. This is also the first challenge of the constitutionality
of the federal Defense Of Marriage Act, Staver said.
When Susan Burns entered into a Vermont civil union with her lesbian partner, ex-husband
Darian Burns filed a motion for contempt, saying she had violated the terms of their
divorce by having her children visit her in the home she shares with her lesbian partner.
So far the state trial court has ruled in favor of the husband, stating that Georgia is
not required to recognize the Vermont civil union. Last week the court of appeals for the
state of Georgia accepted the case for review. Staver predicted the case will eventually
go before the Georgia Supreme Court, and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Under the federal Defense Of Marriage Act, no state is required to recognize the
relationship of another state in which same sex unions are sanctioned.
Since the civil union law went into effect last July, Vermont has issued more than 1,800
civil unions, less than 500 of which went to state residents.
Marriages are down while divorces are
up in China
A story published today by the Peoples Daily reports that the latest statistics in China
show that last year's numbers saw a decrease of over 8.48 million newlyweds, and slight
increase of 1.21 million couples divorcing when compared with the year before.
Since the 1990s, China has seen a decreased number of people of age getting married or
registering for marriage.
In 1990, 9.51 million couples registered for marriage, 9.34 million in 1995, and 8.85
million in 1999. Meanwhile, an increased number of couples got divorced and as a result of
social changes people's concept of marriage has also changed. In 1990, 0.8 million
couples were divorced, 1.05 million in 1995, and 12 million in 1999.
An authoritative view from the Ministry of Civil Affairs states that marriages and
divorces in China represent a profound change taking place in Chinese families and that
more people have come to lean on a comparatively modern open concept on marriage and
family life in China.
Monday, April 23, 2001
Research shows that unwed parents have
closer ties than expected
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that unmarried parents are usually
romantically involved and often live with each other when their babies are born. This
suggests that the prospects for marriage and stable family life may not be as dim as
policy-makers have assumed, researchers say.
``The vast majority of unwed parents view themselves as families,'' concludes a paper by
researchers at Columbia and Princeton universities being published Tuesday in the Children
and Youth Services Review. ``At a minimum, policies designed to strengthen fragile
families are consistent with parents' objectives and therefore, not foredoomed to
Researchers interviewed 3,600 unmarried parents -- plus 1,200 married parents as a
comparison group -- at hospitals in 20 large cities. They plan to follow these families
for at least four years to determine what factors push them closer together or pull them
Policy makers are interested in these families partly because virtually all of the women
who are on welfare -- or at risk of needing welfare -- are unmarried. Unwed parents and
their children are considerably more likely to live in poverty and face more hardships
than their married counterparts.
"The key is working with parents very soon after their babies are born -- when they
are still involved romantically," said Sara McLanahan of Princeton University, a lead
researcher on the Fragile Families project. ``We know that they break up very quickly,''
At the time of the child's birth, her research found:
-48 percent of the unmarried parents were living together and another 34 percent
were still involved romantically. Just 10 percent of the moms said they had little or no
contact with the fathers of their children.
--Three out of four dads visited the moms in the hospital, and 81 percent
contributed money during pregnancy.
--Most mothers predicted good chances for marriage down the line: 78 percent of
mothers who were living with the fathers said their chances of marrying were good or
almost certain. And half of the moms who were involved romantically but not living with
the dads said the same.
-69 percent of moms living with the dads, and 63 percent of other romantically
linked moms said they believed that marriage is better for the kids.
``It doesn't look like their attitudes and values need to be changed very much,''
The research dispels the widespread belief that these unwed, usually poor parents have
little if any potential as a couple, said Kristin Moore, senior scholar at Child Trends,
who was not involved in this project.
``Many people thought that non-marital childbearing happens to teen-agers, happens to
people who aren't in touch with one another and are no longer in love -- if they ever
were, and who were not interested in marriage,'' she said.
In interviews soon after their babies are born, large numbers of mothers and fathers say
they are interested in getting married.
Israeli Supreme Court rules in favor
for lesbian mother relationship
A story released today by Tel-Aviv University paper reports that on March 19 2001, the
Israeli Supreme Court gave its decision ruling that the rabbinical court had acted outside
its jurisdiction when it ordered, that divorced woman could not be with her lesbian lover
in the presence of her children. The rabbinical court made this order at the ex-husband's
request, and the Supreme Court held that the matter did not fall into the jurisdiction of
the rabbinical court.
In 1998, the divorced husband approached the rabbinical court in Haifa, asking to reduce
the alimony he had to pay. A month later, he submitted, within this proceeding, two
motions, one of them for the rabbinical court to issue an order prohibiting the divorced
wife from bringing her lesbian lover in the house or have any contact with the children in
any form or place.
The rabbinical court asked the divorced husband to explain how it could have jurisdiction
to hear the request for alimony reduction, as the couple's divorce was already final.
However, regarding the request concerning the lesbian relationship, it held: "Since
the mother is conducting a love affair with her [female] neighbor, her companion, in her
home in the children's presence, this behavior is immoral and is severely detrimental to
the children's education and souls..we are issuing an order prohibiting the mother to have
her children meet her
lover Mrs... [petitioner 2]".
Petitioner then appealed to the high rabbinical court, which upheld the lower rabbinical
court's holding. The rabbinical court added that it's ruling is correct since the
relationship will be detrimental to the education of the children "and this is clear
to any one with a mind, and needs no explanation".
The court added that the rabbinical court had th authority to issue the order based on the
clause in the divorce agreement that included the woman's obligation not to bring in a
strange man she is not married to into the house. The court said that the purpose of the
clause is clearly to protect the children's soul from seeing their mother live with a man
she is not married to according to Jewish law, and thus the same clearly applies if the
children will meet the mother's lover.
The petitioners then filed their petition with the Supreme Court to review the rabbinical
court's decision for exceeding jurisdiction or for illegality. They argued the court acted
ultra vires, as the couple was already divorced and thus it was not a matter of marriage
and divorce, nor was it linked to the divorce case.
The Supreme Court's hearing focused on the issue of jurisdiction. The Attorney General
appeared before the Court at the Court's request, and expressed his position that the
rabbinical court acted ultra vires.
The Supreme Court agreed and held that if the main suit (for alimony) brought before the
rabbinical court was not within its jurisdiction, then the request concerning the children
also was not within the jurisdiction.
Saturday, April 21, 2001
Single employees want equal flextime
and more firms granting parity
A story published today by the Washington Post reports that two years ago, Myles Romero, a
customer service manager for Ford Motor Co., who is single and does not have children
wanted to rearrange his work life to make more time to teach aerobics, renovate old houses
and pursue an MBA.
Looking enviously at the flexible schedules arranged by many parents at Ford, he suggested
to his managers, that single people demands should not be treated any differently than the
demands of people who happen to have kids. Afraid to losing him, his supervisor asked him
to propose a plan.
Today, the 40-hour, four-day-a-week work arrangement Romero proposed is a standard
flextime option at Ford. And the company has stopped asking employees to provide reasons
for flextime requests. Taking time off for pottery classes is as valid a reason as caring
for a child.
Three decades after mothers with small children began entering the workforce in large
numbers, struggling to win workplace benefits and the flexibility to help them balance the
demands of job and home, Romero and other childless workers nationwide have begun pressing
companies for similar breaks.
In part, employers are responding to increasingly vocal nonparents of all ages who say
they've had enough of America's obsession with families. Helped by a competitive labor
market, these workers have persuaded employers to give them the same attention they see
showered on working parents.
"The trend we're seeing is a definite targeting of work-life benefits" for each
worker, said Richard Federico of Segal Co., a human resources consulting company in New
York. "Those benefits aren't likely to disappear," he said, even as the economy
The changes in the corporate world have taken place against the backdrop of a larger
cultural war: A growing segment of the population calling itself "child free,"
or childless by choice, has taken on child-doting parents. The child-free forces argue
that society needs to stop handing out perks to people simply because they're parents.
Many were galvanized into action last year by journalist Elinor Burkett, author of the
controversial book "The Baby Boon," in which she argued that childless adults
are unfairly shouldering the burden of paying for expensive goodies that flow mostly to
The child-free's list of resentments is long: tax benefits for parents, health insurance
coverage of infertility treatments, family-discount packages at resorts, co-workers who
skip out of the office early to coach soccer games, even those signs reserving prime
parking spots for expectant mothers or parents with young children.
These days, households without children are a widening majority, outnumbering those with
children by about 2 to 1. As the labor market tightened in the 1990s and the cost of
replacing workers rose, many companies found they had to accommodate every lifestyle and
every phase of life.
In 1997, for example, only 6 percent of employers reported that they offered domestic
partner benefits, which extend the same benefits an employee's spouse would receive to an
employee's gay or lesbian life partner. Today, 16 percent of companies say they offer
these benefits, according to a survey released last week by the Society for Human Resource
More broadly, about 25 percent of companies offer "cafeteria-style" benefits,
from which employees can pick from several programs depending on their lifestyles, up from
21 percent in 1997, the survey found.
Two years ago at Prudential, for instance, the company allowed one department to test a
flexible schedule after the manager complained that his staff of highly valued tax experts
was getting picked off by competitors.
Benefits such as subsidized day care meant little to these employees, most of whom were in
their twenties, so Prudential let them come up with their own incentives.
The employees created a new schedule, with a compressed workweek and a rotating day off.
The result: less turnover.
Prudential now offers this arrangement company-wide, part of a new benefits program that
it began after a survey showed that many employees felt cheated by benefits aimed mostly
at parents. The company even reworded its benefits brochures to use phrases like
"working mother" sparingly so as not to snub singles and couples who have no
children at home.
New Jersey Appeals Court limits
lesbian partner's rights after breakup
A report released today by the Associated Press reports that a New Jersey Court of Appeals
ruled that keeping a gay relationship secret can limit visitation or custody rights
involving children if the relationship breaks up.
In a case involving two lesbian lawyers from northern New Jersey, the court turned down
one of the women's request for visitation rights with her former lover's 7-year-old
The court said the woman, identified in court papers only as "A.F." isn't
entitled to a hearing to determine if she is considered a "psychological parent"
to the child because there is no evidence the couple ever presented themselves as a family
in public or to anyone who knew them.
"Both parties agree that defendant hid the romantic aspect of their relationship from
family and friends, maintaining the appearance of a close, platonic friendship," the
court said in a ruling. "If the parties did not hold themselves out to the world at
large as a family, how then can a court conclude that plaintiff lived with defendant's
child as part of a family unit?"
The ruling came a year after a New Jersey Supreme Court decision that granted lesbian
partners visitation rights with the children of a former lover.
The appeals court noted the difference between that case and the one currently at issue.
In the earlier case, the couple had been "married" in a civil commitment
ceremony and presented themselves as a family to the world.
In the case decided Friday, the court noted that the women never lived together. A.F.
lived in Union County, while the defendant, identified as "D.L.P." lived in
Bergen County. The court recognized that A.F. had a role in the child's life, but likened
it to that of a "nanny or baby sitter."
Wednesday, April 18, 2001
Entertainment and publishing industry
courts attention of single women
A story published by the San Francisco Chronicle reports that from Helen Gurley Brown's
"Sex and the Single Girl" in the mid-'60s to HBO's show "Sex and the
City", the world has devoured tales of unmarried women like exotic fruit.
The intrigue continues with the new Miramax film, "Bridget Jones's Diary", based
on the most popular of the recent single-gal books. The comic character of Bridget is the
brainchild of Helen Fielding, who started the "Diary" as a newspaper column in
the London Independent.
The latest tidal wave of books also runs the range from fact and fiction, including
Meghan Daum's memoir, "My Misspent Youth";"Unzipped,"Courtney Weaver's
candid soiree into the sex lives of four San Francisco women, first published as a serial
on Salon.com; and Melissa Banks' novel, "The Girls' Guide to Hunting and
Fishing," which also will be made into a film soon.
"Entertainment about single women is always going to be popular with women. We like
hearing about others because then we don't feel like we're the only ones feeling crazy and
confused.", said Laura Zigman's author of "Animal Husbandry" which 20th
Century Fox picked up and retitled in big screen as "Someone Like You."
Weaver adds, "I think there are more books and movies and shows about single women
because there are so many more of us out there."
A new census reports that there are currently 43 million single women in the United
States. Roughly 40 percent of all American women are not married. That's compared with 30
percent in 1960. This translates to a lot of women staying single longer, making a life
independent of men, having increased earning power and being avid consumers.
No wonder a recent study by the advertising firm Young & Rubicam cited adult single
females as the target group at which retailers aim their advertising arrows.
"It's a grass-is-greener kind of thing," Zigman says. "I think there has
always been curiosity about the single-woman lifestyle, because it's a big unknown."
Recent portrayals, however, drew fire from feminists who take umbrage at the too-flawed
anti-heroines who routinely sacrifice dignity in the pursuit of men.
"I had a hard time with that debate," Zigman says. "They really came at me
and said - what does this mean? But I think it's natural to have those dueling desires: to
be independent and to be in a
Anyway, I think more women identify with a Bridget Jones than a superwoman."
Tuesday, April 17, 2001
Illinois lawmaker proposes premarital
A story published today in The Maneater, a campus publication at the University of
Missouri reports that the Illinois Senate passed a bill on April 5 requiring applicants
for marriage licenses to first attend four hours of marriage counseling. If the couple
does not attend, the bill states they would have to wait 60 days before receiving a
Illinois state Sen. John Cullerton, D-Chicago, sponsored the bill.
Toby Trimmer, a spokesman for Cullerton, said he was optimistic that the bill would pass
in the Illinois House and could significantly benefit families.
"The goal here is to reduce the divorce rate," Trimmer said.
He said the high divorce rate, around 47 percent in Illinois, also affects children and
can lead to additional problems like declining academic performance.
Trimmer said people who participated in the voluntary Prevention and Relationship
Enhancement Program, had a 32 percent less chance of getting a divorce than people who
didn't undergo counseling.
Missouri Rep. Chuck Graham, D-Columbia, said he doubts any similar bill would be enacted
"We've had similar legislation proposed," Graham said. "That didn't really
go anywhere. You'll tend to find a more conservative strand in the state."
"I don't think four hours of counseling is a cure-all to all of the problems
you'll find in marriage," he said.
Counseling before marriage can significantly help couples because most problems are minor
communication issues, said Greg Boyt, coordinator of the DRD Columbia Medical Clinic.
However, Boyt said he was unsure if the law would play a role in curbing the rising
divorce rate because people might not take the counseling seriously.
"I think there's going to be a percentage of the population that will perceive it as
being forced into counseling," he said.
If the Illinois House approves the bill, it would be up to Republican Gov. George Ryan to
decide whether to sign the bill into law.
"We have a lot a bipartisan support," Trimmer said. "I think it's
going to provide us with some good opportunities."
Unwed births remain constant while
teen birth rates drop
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that one-third of all births in the
nation are attributed to unmarried women. Teen births on the other have dropped to a
record low. The story is based on a report released by the National Center for Health
The study reports that birth rates for unmarried women increased slightly to 44.4 births
per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15-44. One out of every three births in the U.S. was to an
The birth rate for mothers 15 to 19 declined 3 percent to 49.6 births per 1,000 women in
1999 from the previous year. This rate has fallen 20 percent since 1991 and is now at a
``Teen sexual activity has leveled off compared to the increases we saw in the previous
couple of decades,'' commented demographer Stephanie Ventura.
``Also, teens who are sexually active are more likely to be using contraception,''
she said. ``Every state has a teen pregnancy prevention program. ... The message has
The 1999 rate broke a record of 50.2 births per 1,000 teen-age women set in 1986. The
records go back to 1940.
The new report, ``Births: Final Data for 1999,'' also found:
-- Birth rates for women in their thirties increased 2 to 3 percent between
1998 and 1999, and are at their highest level in more than three decades. The birth
rate for women aged 40-44 also increased in 1999.
-- The median age for first-time mothers increased to 24.5 years, continuing a slow
but steady rise since 1972.
-- Total births in the U.S. increased to 3,959,417 in 1999, up less than 1
percent from 1998.
Monday, April 16, 2001
Colombia High Court bars schools from
expelling students based on sexual conduct
A story released today by EFE News reports that Colombia's Constitutional Court has
ordered schools to eliminate rules on sexual behavior from their codes of conduct,
The ruling was in response to a lawsuit by a high-school student who was expelled for
getting pregnant and living with her boyfriend. The target of the suit was the San Luis
Beltran school in the city of Manati, in northern Colombia.
The student was publicly expelled after classmates complained of inconsistent enforcement
of the code of conduct.
The high court's ruling will now force schools throughout the country to no longer
consider extramarital sex, abortion, prostitution or homosexuality disciplinary
Saturday, April 14, 2001
Unmarried British soldiers to get
A story published by the BBC News on March 14, 2001, reports that the British Ministry of
Defense will begin phasing out the old-style army barrack dormitories because newer
recruits no longer find it acceptable to share a room.
Defense Secretary Geoff Hoon has announced a £200m-a-year improvement program for the
forces' unmarried quarters accommodation, which aims to eventually offer all single
service personnel their own room.
Defense officials have admitted that the step was being driven by the need to retain a
different generation of recruits who wanted greater privacy.
"In the 21st century people are increasingly expecting their own rooms with decent
facilities," one source said.
The three British services have historically taken different views on unmarried
accommodation, with recruits to the RAF the most likely to get a room of their own.
But the Army has traditionally regarded dormitories as good for building team spirit, and
most unmarried private soldiers still live in shared accommodation with four to a room.
The Defense Ministry says the aim is for all single personnel, apart from new trainees, to
get their own accommodation with a shower.
However, officials have acknowledged the program could take10 years to complete.
The new investment will initially have to go into improving the poor state of much of the
existing unmarried accommodation.
Mr. Hoon, addressing building contractors in London, said that some barracks
accommodation, was "frankly appalling".
"Some of it is simply unacceptable. Its condition is positively damaging to
operational effectiveness, to retaining service men and women, and to the day-to-day
efficiency of defense.
"And we know it is getting worse," he said.
Friday, April 13, 2001
Philadelphia Inquirer gives AASP the
last word on new census study
A story published by the Philadelphia Inquirer reports that a government study this week
confirmed a trend that may confound the family-values debate: More children lived in the
traditional two-parent family in the 1990s, but more also lived with adults who were not
Statistics from a 1996 Census Bureau survey, combined with more recent surveys, show
increasing diversity in living arrangements for the nation's children, from high
immigration to changing divorce rates to the strong economy.
"It's not any one thing," said Jason Fields, author of the report released this
week, based on a survey, not the 2000 census.
"We're seeing that the nuclear family has increased in recent years. But we're also
seeing a rise in unmarried cohabitation."
The study found that between 1991 and 1996, the share of children living with both of
their biological, married parents and any full biological siblings rose from 51 percent to
56 percent of all children.
At the same time, the study, along with more recent surveys, indicates that the number of
children living with unmarried adults rose slightly.
The exact percentage change in cohabitation is unclear because the figures came from
different surveys. The newly released 1996 survey, considered the most comprehensive,
found that 5 percent of children that year (3.3 million) were living with adults who were
not married, at least one of whom was a
"It is now more common for people to cohabitate not only before they get married, but
also after a marriage ends," said Lynn Casper, a researcher on children's development
at the National Institutes of Health.
Casper offered several reasons for the trend, including the possibility that more divorced
parents were moving in with their new partners but not marrying them.
The study of 71.5 million children in 1996 also found:
About 17 percent of all children, and 57 percent of black children, lived with an
unmarried parent in 1996, some of whom were cohabitating with another adult.
About 71 percent of children lived in any type of two-parent household, 25 percent lived
in single-parent households, and 4 percent in households with some other adult, such as a
Less than 1 percent (5.2 million) were living with one biological parent and either a
stepparent or adoptive parent.
About 21 percent (15.3 million) had no brothers or sisters present in the house. Among the
79 percent with siblings, about 11 percent shared one biological parent but not the other.
Experts also differed on the reasons for the trends in cohabitation and traditional
families, and particularly whether a child is better off living with two unmarried adults
or with a single parent.
Fields also said a bigger number of immigrants in the 1990s, who tend to cling to their
families upon arrival, may have pushed up the numbers. He also noted a general increase,
from the 1980s to 1990s, in the fertility rates among women in their 30s.
Attitudes also may be changing about the value of staying in the traditional nuclear
family, which had been steadily breaking up since the 1950s.
Susan Orr, a specialist in family trends at the conservative, pro-marriage Family Research
Council, based in Washington, said the trend showed more people were questioning the
notion that children were best served by having their unhappy parents get divorced.
"I think there is . . . an increasingly open and public discussion that divorce is
bad and marriage is good for children and adults," Orr said. "More mothers and
fathers staying together with their children is a good thing."
Asked about more parents living unmarried, Orr said: "Let's help them get married. If
this is a real family unit, let's formalize it. If there are barriers we've put in their
place, let's remove them."
Gregory Asc, a senior research associate at the nonpartisan Urban Institute, noted that
the trend away from single-person parenting might not always be good.
"Bringing an [unmarried] man into the house may be a mixed blessing," Asc said.
"There is some evidence that having a boyfriend around is worse."
Advocates for unmarried people, however, sharply criticized the study's contention that
the nuclear family has rebounded, pointing out that the number of married-with-children
households is still down dramatically from the1950s and 1960s.
"Unmarried America keeps growing," said Thomas F. Coleman, director of the
California-based American Association for Single People. "More and more children are
living with unmarried adults, more are being raised by grandparents, and the reality is
Census says American's families are
more traditional; AASP says it isn't so
A story released by the Associated Press reports that the prototypical nuclear family of
black and white TV -- where mom, dad and their biological children all live together --
may not be as endangered as it sometimes seems. The percent of children living in such
traditional families rose during the early 1990s, from 51 percent in 1991 to 56 percent in
At the same time, other families became increasingly complex, with more stepparents,
grandparents and adoptive parents raising children, the Census Bureau says in a report
The new data examined 71.5 million children living in the United States in fall 1996.
The report, based on a survey of 37,000 households, both rejects and builds upon common
perceptions of increasingly diversified families.
``It's not entirely a clear picture,'' said the Census Bureau's Jason Fields, the report's
Most unexpected may be the rise in the proportion of children living in ``nuclear
families'' -- where the children live with their biological mother and father and no one
In addition, births to teen-agers and to unmarried older women have fallen, helping to
slow a three-decade climb in the number of children living with single parents. Still, one
in three babies is born to unmarried parents.
But the proportion of children living in any sort of two-parent family -- including
nuclear families as well as those with stepparents and other arrangements -- continued to
fall, from 73 percent in 1991 to 71 percent in 1996.
The report found that all sorts of non-traditional families are becoming more common.
Specifically, in fall 1996:
--Single parents: About one in four children lived with a single parent, up slightly
from 1991. Nine times out of 10, they were living with their mother. Still, 1.8 million
children lived with their single fathers.
About 3.3 million children were living with a single parent and another adult. In nearly
half these cases, the other adult was the child's other parent, but the couple was not
--Blended families: About 16.5 percent of children live in a family recreated due to
remarriage, with stepparents, stepsiblings or half-siblings. That compares with about 15
percent in 1991.
--Adopted children: About 1.5 million children were living with adoptive parents,
but only about half of those were living with two adoptive parents. In most other cases,
stepparents had adopted the biological children of their new spouses.
--Multi-generational: Some 5.9 percent of children lived in a home with at least
three generations, usually because a grandparent was present.That is up slightly from 5.7
percent in 1991.
--Other relatives: 14 percent of children, or 10.3 million, were living in
``extended families,'' where the household includes at least one person outside the
nuclear family. In 1991, it was 12.5 percent.
Children living with just one parent were four times as likely to live in extended
families as others, as single parents look for others to share resources and provide extra
Children in racial minority groups were more than twice as likely than white children to
live in extended families, the report said. In some cases, that is because new family
members immigrated to this country and moved in with relatives.
Not mentioned in the AP article is a press release issued by the American Association for
Single People which criticized the press release used by the Census Bureau to announce the
new report. That release claimed "traditional nuclear family" on the
"rebound," which AASP says is a distortion of facts.
Census data find the percentage of
children living with biological parents increasing to 56 percent
A story released today in the Christian Science Monitor reports that between 1991 and
1996, the percentage of American children living with both their biological parents jumped
from 51 percent to 56 percent, according to a report released today by the US Census
Bureau. The finding, which surprised many researchers, suggests that family relations in
the United States may be entering a new era of stability after two decades of tumultuous
"It's the single most hopeful finding that I've heard from the Census Bureau in
years," says David Blankenhorn, president of the Institute for American Values, a New
York think tank devoted to issues of family and civil society.
"It's unexpected," adds Andrew Cherlin, professor of sociology at Johns Hopkins
University in Baltimore. "Increases in family stability are always good news."
Rather than a return to the Ozzie and Harriet days of the 1950s, the new report suggests
that changes in family structure are leveling off. For example, in 1990, single mothers
were raising 22 percent of the nation's children; by 1996, that share had risen slightly
to 23 percent.
This indicates that diverse forms of parenting - from adoption to stepparents - remained
prevalent during the mid-1990s. "Although we may see a stabilization of and even a
slight rise in the married-parent nuclear families, it's not enough [of a change] that we
can afford to ignore these other families," says Stephanie Coontz, cochair of the
Council on Contemporary Families, a nonprofit group of researchers based in New York.
Researchers attribute the reemergence of nuclear families to many factors. For one thing,
the divorce rate has fallen from its peak around 1980, when there were 5.2 divorces for
every 1,000 people; by 1999, the rate had dropped to 4.1.
Also, out-of-wedlock births are leveling off. In 1970, roughly 1 out of 10 births involved
unmarried mothers. Although the rate surged to 1 out of 3 in 1994, it has since stayed
But family experts caution that the rebound of nuclear families, while real, could be
exaggerated by other factors. The economy, for example, may have played a role. Between
1991 and 1996, families' average financial situations improved significantly. Typically,
such improvements reduce the number of divorces. By one estimate, every one percentage
point gain in the unemployment rate generates some 10,000 extra divorces.
In any case, the rise of nuclear families report tends to be good news for children,
Despite the rise in the nuclear family, some 44 percent of children still live in other
family arrangements. "There's a tremendous diversity in the living arrangements of
kids," says Jason Fields, family demographer with the US Census Bureau and author of
the new report.
A quarter of all children lived in single-parent households. And 4 percent lived with
neither parent. Roughly three-quarters of that last group lived with grandparents or
The portion of children in various living arrangements changes dramatically depending on
race and ethnicity. For example, while 84 percent of Asian (and other Pacific Island)
children and 79 percent of non-Hispanic whites lived with two parents, only 38 percent of
black children did. Just over half of black children lived in mother-only households,
twice the share of Hispanic children who did.
"That certainly says something about the economic resources that these children have
access to," says Mr. Fields. Usually, one-parent households are poorer than
The number of adopted children stood at 1.5 million in 1996, up from 1.1 million in 1991.
Nearly half lived with two adoptive parents; another third lived with one biological
parent and an adoptive parent.
As late as 1970, 85 percent of children lived in two-parent homes, 11 percent in
mother-only homes, 1 percent in father-only homes, and 3 percent with neither parent.
Then in the next two decades, the number of divorces and single-parent households
dramatically increased. By 1990, 22 percent of all children lived in mother-only homes.
The nuclear family seemed under attack - a notion that may fade if the new trend holds up.
"There was a sense of inevitability about the disintegration of the two-parent
child-rearing household," says Mr. Blankenhorn of the Institute for American Values.
"If nothing else, this shows there's nothing inevitable about the trend."
European countries modify traditional
A story published today in the International Herald Tribune reports that Netherlands which
prides itself of being in the forefront of social reform, pushed beyond its European
partners again with the celebration of three homosexual marriages under a new law at
Amsterdam City Hall.
Dutch statistics show that 10 percent of established couples in the country are
homosexual. It is now legally possible for same-sex couples to marry which bring all the
rights of marriage from health and insurance benefits to inheritance.
The trend is not much different in other European countries, where traditional laws on
personal status are being revised. France for example, has established a new legal
contract known as PACS, which is not a formal marriage but provides for property and
maintenance benefits of a spouse. It is available not only to homosexuals but also for
The changes in family law which are being promoted in most European countries despite
strong objections from the churches are advanced as needed adaptations to modern
circumstances in order to strengthen the family.
Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder of Germany wrote in a recent article titled "Family,
Progress, Happiness," said that for more than a century gloom-sayers have been
predicting the death of the family, but it remains a vital, lively institution by supple
forms of redefinition. "Traditional family," he said, refers to the immediate
post-war period in Europe "when women were expected to stay home and have babies,
divorce was stigmatized, single mothers were penalized and children born outside marriage
had no rights." Mr. Schroeder pointed out with pride that 85 percent of German
children under the age of 16 lived with two parents, an impressive rebuttal to the
argument that the family has collapsed.
Reinforcing the family used to be considered the monopoly of conservatives, but Mr.
Schroeder said his socialist coalition government was determined to do all it could to
support family life- advocating flexible working hours, providing for child care, enabling
men to share parental duties more equitably, but ensuring that women have full and equal
opportunities for jobs and careers.
In a similar surge of redefinition of old assumptions, France is also working on a
far-reaching change in its traditional laws. Ministers Ségolène Royal for family and
children's affairs and Marylise Lebranchu for justice, have passed proposals that would
reflect the general opinion in proclaiming that the law must be brought up to date with
Divorce for guilt will be wiped out. When there is no contention between the parties, it
won't even be necessary to have a formal court hearing to register divorce. There is no
longer to be any legal distinction between children born in or outside wedlock, and
acknowledgment of paternity conveys the rights of any father.
These are dramatic social changes, particularly for a country like France which always had
so much pride in historic family origins and name.
The impact of these forms of evolution of European society is hard to foresee, but they
certainly show that Europeans are not traditionalist stuck in the past.
Thursday, April 12, 2001
Hollywood, stop depicting single women
as desperate and lonely
A story published today in The Christian Science Monitor reports that the growth in the
ranks of single women in recent decades has created a new cultural phenomenon. Today, some
40 percent of all adult women are single.
In Tinseltown and on bookstores, the media is beginning to present more nuanced portrayals
of these women - from the self-sufficiency in "That's Life" a CBS sitcom, to the
candidness of "Bridget Jones's Diary," which opens in theaters tomorrow.
Adding to the fuel is a grass-roots explosion of novels and newsletters, photo exhibits
and websites dedicated to a more faithful presentation of single women, whose experiences
differ dramatically from those of their mothers and grandmothers.
"There's no script for them [to] follow or borrow from an earlier generation of
women," says Barbara Dafoe Whitehead, co-director of The National Marriage Project at
Rutgers University. "They're defining this stage of life as they go through it."
Despite the popularity of tv shows like "Ally McBeal" and "Sex in the
City," single women say they feel they are often a transparent part of society,
considered neither complete nor financially viable.
"We're seen as people-in-waiting," says Lorie Johnson, a single woman in Little
Rock, Ark., who is about to buy her own home. "The idea that we could be happy and
content with our lives and escape the marriage-go-round seems to escape [people]."
Part of the problem is that society is still figuring out what to do with women who aren't
following the traditional married-with-children pattern.
About 43 million women - or 40 percent of the adult female population -are over 18 and
single, according to 1998 census figures. Thirty years ago, that number was about 30
More men are single, too, but the percentages of unmarried women ages 25 to 29, and 30 to
34 have roughly tripled between 1970 and 1998. The median age of marriage for women has
also gone up -from about 20 in 1960 to 25 in 1998.
A Young and Rubicam study from last summer also suggests that marketers who ignore single
women suffer at their own peril. Their study noted that single women are more frequently
buying cars and houses and taking vacations on their own, a contrast to the unfulfilled
types the media often makes them out to be.
"Happily married is something people have an image of. But there is no shared
cultural image of being happily single," says Professor Potuchek.
During research for her coming book about changing relationship patterns, Dr. Whitehead
has counted some 20 novels that women, mostly in their 30s, have written in the last
Laura Zigman is on Whitehead's list. Ms. Zigman's best-selling novel "Animal
Husbandry" was the basis for "Someone Like You" starring Ashley Judd as a
TV booking agent who goes through a breakup. She felt that there was a lack of literature
that talked about being heartbroken -aside from Madame Bovary and cheesy self-help books,
Zigman says. "It mirrored what happens to a lot of women where there is a big gap
One thing that might comfort younger single women to feel more secure in their singleness
is more images of older single women, says Kay Trimberger, a professor of women's and
gender studies at Sonoma State University in Rohnert Park, Calif. Trimberger is a
member of the American Association for Single People.
"In your late 20s and early 30s," it's harder to be single "because you're
more subject to societal and marriage pressures," she says. "Whereas older
single women have created lives for themselves," including strong family ties and
circles of friends wider than even married women have.
CBS's "Judging Amy," has a good example of that. Amy's mother is single, and a
social worker. Amy herself is a judge and single mother -more than a stereotype.
"It's a great example," says Potuchek, "It can include romance, but its not
Even more telling may be that the people behind Harlequin romances are coming out with a
new line of books in November. They will focus on the coming-of-age experiences of single
"More than anything, these books are supposed to reflect real life situations.
They're hopeful but not fantasy based," says Margaret Marbury, editor of the new
imprint Red Dress Ink. "These aren't exclusively the search for Mr. Maybe, but a
single woman's pursuit of happiness, whatever that may be."
Wednesday, April 11, 2001
Campus child care helps single-parent
students stay in school
A story published today by USA Today reports that an increasing demand for childcare on
college campuses has prodded Congress to approve a fivefold increase in this year's
funding for a program that helps provide child care for single-parents and other
low-income student parents to gain an education
and escape poverty.
The budget for Child Care Access Means Parents In Schools (CCAMPIS) was increased to $25
million from $5 million in fiscal 2000.
The 3-year-old program, which supported child-care centers at 87 colleges and universities
its first two years, can now spread to perhaps 300 more campuses this year.
Under the Bush administration, however, program funding is uncertain. And even this year's
larger amount just scratches the surface.
Campus child-care programs meet an estimated one-quarter of the needs of student parents,
says Todd Boressoff, public policy chairman of the National Coalition for Campus
Children's Centers. Of the nation's 3,000 two- and four-year colleges and universities,
some 2,300 offer child care.
''Most don't begin to serve the need on campus,'' says Boressoff. With a college degree
now almost required for a good wage, and more older students enrolling, demand will
A projection from the Education department states that this year alone, 21% of the
country's 15,361 undergraduate and graduate students are 35 or older, and more than
two-thirds of the older group are women. The number of those older students has soared
124% since 1980.
Ten percent of undergraduates in the 1995-96 school year were single parents, the latest
Department of Education statistics show. Factoring in gender, age or race, the percentage
of single-parent undergraduates was higher -- 13% of women, 18% of students ages 25 to 34,
and 32% of black women.
In a 1987-88 survey of student parents at State University of New York community colleges
with child care, 60% said college wouldn't be possible without child care; 86% of the
student parents using child care stayed in school or completed their degree, much higher
than the 60% success rate for the total student population.
Low-income students easily got help with child-care costs before the federal government
overhauled welfare in 1996. Under the old system, recipients could attend college and get
federal subsidies for child care.
Now, states focus more child-care subsidies on parents who work, rather than parents in
To meet the need of student parents,Boressoff's group and advocates such as the Children's
Defense Fund pushed for CCAMPIS, which Congress created in 1998. Under the program, the
Department of Education distributes four-year grants to college child-care centers where
more than half of student clients are low-income. The money doesn't pay students' costs,
but the centers can use it in other helpful ways.
For example, the University of South Dakota used its $129,000 grant to start a program for
infants and toddlers, child-care coordinator Merle Eintracht says.
Congress gave the CCAMPIS program $5 million each of its first two years, then jumped to
$25 million for 2001. Boressoff says for 2002, he will ask Congress to give it the full
$45 million the law authorizes.
But, says Becky Timmons of the American Council on Education, ''It's not clear that
(CCAMPIS) is going to have any support from the (Bush) White House.''
Massachusetts activists file
suit over the right to marry
A story released today by the Associated Press reports that seven gay and lesbian couples
in Springfield, Massachusetts, filed a lawsuit Wednesday asking the state to lift its
prohibition of same-sex marriages.
"We've conducted ourselves as a married couple since 1991," said Heidi Norton,
of Northampton, who is suing with her partner, Gina Smith.
Still, Norton said they run into problems daily that other couples with children would
not. "Every place we go we have to make an extra effort," she said.
The right to marry would provide the couples more protection than laws specifically
designed to recognize same-sex unions, said Mary Bonauto, a lawyer for the Gay &
Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, a New England group that is financing the lawsuit.
"It's the simplest solution," Bonauto said. "Everyone knows what marriage
The women appeared at a morning news conference to publicize the lawsuit filed in Suffolk
Superior Court in Boston where most of the plaintiffs live.
The suit is seeking the court to force the state Department of Public Health, which
regulates marriage certificates, to lift its prohibition against same-sex marriages.
"We simply have no authority to register a union that under the statute is
illegal," said Roseanne Pawelic, a spokesperson for the Health Department.
"In 1989 the state's anti-discrimination laws were amended and in that amendment the
Legislature explicitly said 'nothing in this Act ...legitimizes or validates a homosexual
marriage,'" Pawelic said.
In 1999 the state Supreme Judicial Court rejected an attempt by the city of Boston to
provide health insurance coverage to gay partners of city workers finding it was up
to the Legislature to change the existing law on the books.
Tuesday, April 10, 2001
Survey reports more people are having premarital sex
A story published today by the Badger Herald, a campus newspaper at the University of
Wisconsin, reports that a recent national survey conducted by Adam & Eve, a large
mail-order erotica distributor, revealed that 70 percent of Americans had their first
sexual intercourse before marriage. Only 26 percent reported saving their virginity for
their wedding night.
University Health Services associate director Scott J. Spear confirmed the results, and
contended that young adults are engaged in irrational decision-making based on meaningful
relationships when deciding to have sex for the first time.
Adam & Eve spokesperson Katy Zvolerin noted that society is getting away from marriage
as the primary factor in deciding to be sexually active.
"While the institution of marriage is sacred to many people, it appears that the
modern sexual attitudes have generally surpassed the old notion of abstaining from sex
until marriage," she said. "This doesn't mean we've become a 'loose' society
with no moral standards. It simply means more and more people are exploring healthy sexual
relationships before settling down with their life partners."
The survey also added that 80 percent of men reported having premarital sex, while 62
percent of women admitted to the same.
Spear contended that this gender gap may linked to a social double standard that affects
how people answer these types of survey questions. Because sexually active women are
perceived by many as "easy," while men are considered
"experienced," these findings may be flawed.
"Men may be over-reporting and women may be under-reporting," Spear said.
Additionally, among adults 50 or older, only 58 percent said they had intercourse before
marriage. The same survey reveals that 78 percent adults under the age of 50 said they had
engaged in premarital sex.
"I don't think that having premarital sex means I've sacrificed my morals," said
Kimberly Hauser a student interviewed in the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
"I knew that I was ready, and that there was a good chance I would marry this guy
someday, so why wait four years to finish
college, get married and then have sex?"
For Hauser and many other students, the presence of a meaningful relationship can be the
most important criteria in deciding to have sex before marriage.
However, 26 percent of Americans, including UW freshman Nate Bach, plan to wait.
"Personally, I am going to wait, but that doesn't mean I hold anyone to any
standards," he said.
States adopt covenant marriages to
A story published today by USA Today reports that Arkansas becomes the third state
to offer covenant marriages -specialized, voluntary agreements making divorces tougher to
Officials in the office of Maryland Gov. Parris Glendening, a Democrat, say that the
governor is also expected to sign a similar bill that gives couples a break on
marriage license fees if they take a marriage education course. Florida has also enacted a
The developments are the latest in a growing trend. States are trying to reduce the
divorce rate to help protect children, who do best in intact families.
The movement sends a powerful message, says Diane Sollee, founder of the Coalition for
Marriage, Family and Couples Education. "Momentum is building.Grown-ups out there are
saying marriage is something we should take a stand on. We feel strongly enough to pass a
law. We have to value this institution before we lose it."
Arkansas' covenant marriage law voluntarily pledges couples to marry for life and to get
marital counseling if they face marital difficulties. Divorces will only be granted
in special cases, including adultery, committing of a felony, or physical or sexual abuse.
Arkansas has the nation's second-highest divorce rate, says Chris Pyle, family policy
director for Republican Gov. Mike Huckabee. "The governor is a former Southern
Baptist minister. He has made marriage an important priority in his administration."
Louisiana and Arizona have passed their own versions of covenant marriage laws, while
there is similar activity in Texas and Iowa, says John Crouch, a divorce lawyer who runs
Americans for Divorce Reform. The group tracks and advocates change in divorce laws.
"I think we are looking at very slow, but long-term, change."
Last year, the governor of Maryland vetoed a marriage education bill, saying it didn't
specify who would administer premarital education courses that would be offered in
exchange for discounted marriage fees.
Rep. John Leopold, one of the bills sponsor's, revised the previous bill detailing a list
of professionals who can offer the courses, which must last at least four hours. "We
have met the governor's objections," he says.
"Policymakers have to deal honestly with these issues. Studies show where there is a
nurturing environment with a husband and wife, children have a much better chance for
success," Leopold says.
Critics of this movement however, are skeptical. "Much marriage education legislation
seems like window dressing to me," says Don Bloch, past president of the American
Family Therapy Academy. "I don't know about a four-hour course. It seems like
political flimflam by people who appeal to our desire to do something about
Monday, April 9, 2001
Injunction hearings: 'poor man's
divorce' for unmarried couples
A story published today in the Daytona Beach News Journal reports that domestic violence
injunction cases involving unmarried couples, allegations of violence are often set aside
while the hearings turn, in the words of County Judge Peter Marshall, into "a poor
man's divorce court."
"That's where you see a lot of times where they race each other down to the
courthouse trying to get possession of the home or kids," Marshall says.
According to family law attorney Rick Brown, "at the domestic violence hearing, what
usually happens is the subject switches from domestic violence to custody. A lot of them
end up being lengthy custody hearings."
Petitioners seek immediate child support payments, sole possession of a shared home and
custody of the couple's children.
That might not be a bad thing, says Circuit Judge John Doyle. By formally splitting up an
unmarried couple, judges help remove the pressures that create the potential for abuse, he
While some judges do not share the same view, Doyle sees the injunction process as a
medium through which unmarried couples pass enroute to resolving disputes.
He says that the process has significantly reduced repeated incidents of violence among
A majority of couples who come to his courtroom are high school dropouts, between 18 and
30 years of age, work in unskilled or semi-skilled jobs and have"terrible" job
histories, he says.
An allegation of domestic violence "basically triggers our jurisdiction to intercede
in this dispute," he says. "I ask up front if everybody understands that we are
here today to break up.' "
As in a divorce proceeding, Doyle spends a lot of time on custody issues, and splitting
"I do almost everything I do in a divorce," he says. "If I don't, they get
in a big fight later on, and that defeats the purpose of them coming to see me."
In the hearings, "we make a list of issues to focus attention on -- what we're really
there to talk about. The issue with (the man) is his stuff. He wants his stuff."
Often, the hearing is the first time the man learns he is being dumped, Doyle says.
"The woman may want to break up with the guy but can't figure out a way to tell him
for fear he will explode," he says. "He doesn't know, and a lot of times you can
see the guy react visibly when that comes out."
Young adults are turning to sexual
A story published today in the Birmingham Post Herald reports that a small percent of
adults in their 20s and 30s are abstaining from sex.
Some are religious people who say they want to do right by God. Others fear HIV and
sexually transmitted diseases. Some have had failed relationships and are tired of
loveless romping. Others are virgins - an unusual status since most Americans have sex by
the time they are 17, according to University of Chicago research - and are waiting to
fall in love with a lifelong partner.
"The pendulum is swinging in the other direction," said Dee Dee Fix, a program
educator for Worth the Wait, a sexual education program based in Texas that develops
programs and curriculum on sexual abstinence.
Fix said people who have become adults within the past decade have seen how casual sexual
relationships have affected them or their friends.
Fear of STDs, date rape and divorce are also influencing young adults to keep their
hormones at bay, Fix says.
"People are starting to recognize the severity of STDs especially," Fix said.
"They are saying, 'This is something that can harm me in the long run.'"
Edward O. Laumann, one of the authors of "Sex in America: A Definitive Study,"
says it's hard to believe that many people are abstaining from sex voluntarily - meaning
they have other physical, mental or emotional issues preventing them from participating in
Anecdotal evidence shows that people are more accepting of premarital sex, Laumann says,
which suggests sexual abstinence isn't as critical as it used to be. Only about 2 percent
of the population has not engaged in sex by age 30, and that number includes those under
constraint not to, such as priests, nuns and disabled people, Laumann says.
But sexual morality is making news, Laumann adds. "People not having sex is
newsworthy because it's rare and unusual, and that attracts attention,"Laumann says.
For some, their own realization of how sex did not add anything significant to their
relationship is enough to drive them towards sexual abstinence.
Alves, a Christian, said she had hoped that sex would fix a lot of the other problems that
had surfaced in their relationship, including her boyfriend's alleged drug use and her
feelings of distrust towards him.
The sex continued, but troubles with their relationship did not disappear. They broke up
countless times, she remembers. But Alves always returned to him.
A few years into their marriage, Alves said, she realized the distrust and the alleged
drug use still plagued their relationship, so they divorced.
A year later, Alves credits her religious beliefs for helping her recover from her
marriage and subsequent divorce. And she says she has a renewed understanding of sex.
"I truly believe it's God's guideline for me to wait until I am married,"she
said. "I know he has my spouse picked out for me."
For Valeria Moreno, the danger of STDs was a big concern. The 20-year-old lost her
virginity when she was 15.
"At first, I thought this is what I wanted to do because I wasn't looking for a
relationship. I thought I would just have my fun," Moreno said.
But knowing the threat of STDs, she said, influenced her to settle down. A year ago she
re-committed to abstinence.
"I want to focus on getting to know someone first," Moreno said."Whenever I
got in a sexual relationship it got boring and I wanted to get out of it."
Sunday, April 8, 2001
Study shows that population of single
adults in 1996 has double from 1970
A story published in the News Herald reports that there are more than 77 million unmarried
Americans - double the number of single people documented in 1970 by the U.S. Census
The government agency reported in 1996 that those 77 million people represented 40 percent
of the adult population. In 1970, about 28 percent of Americans were unmarried.
"The reality is that marriage is now the interlude and singlehood the state of
affairs," said Barbara Dafoe Whitehead co-director of The National Marriage Project
of Rutgers University in New Jersey.
Whitehead said women, specifically, spend less time married than they do single before
marriage, as widows or as divorcées. Part of that time gap results from the fact women
live longer than men, she said.
The period of time before marriage is also getting longer.
The census reports in 1955, the median age for women married for the first time was 20.2
years, and for men, 22.6 years. By 1996, those numbers increased to 24.8 years for women
and 27.1 years for men.
Whitehead theorized that both genders are completing school, focusing on careers and
becoming economically prepared for marriage before taking the plunge.
Whitehead said that a factor that has not been present before is the fear of single young
people about divorce even before they get married.
The divorce rate that fluctuates between 43 percent and 50 percent is the symptom of a
larger problem, said Steve Lowe, singles pastor with Willoughby Hills Friends Church.
"The bottom line is that we are breeding unhealthy individuals as a whole," Lowe
said. "They become self-fulfilling prophecies of their own brokeness."
By not dealing with the original problem, the cycle can repeat itself, Lowe said. Or the
adult individual still could be coping with tough issues the same way he did when he or
she was a child, instead of dealing with them like an adult.
Another basic level of "dysfunction" is present in society, Lowe said.
People are placing self-gratification above working on their relationships. Today's
attitude is "do what feels good to you," he said.
"We've lost touch with the priorities," Lowe said.
Despite increasing numbers of unmarried adults, census figures still show another reality:
Many people are married.
In 1998, nearly 111 million Americans were married and living with their spouse.
"Most people still want to be married at some point in their lives," Whitehead
said. "But people don't think it's a tragedy to be single, and people don't want to
be married to just any old person just for the sake of being married."
Irene Fiala, a sociology professor at the Ashtabula campus of Kent State University, said
the same. Ninety percent of the population does marry, she said.
"We are still a marrying society," she said. "We just delay it a little
Fiala looks at it from a technical standpoint. She said single people can be categorized
in four ways: ambivalents, resolveds, regretfuls and wishfuls.
"Ambivalents" are voluntarily, but temporarily, single and are usually young.
"Resolveds" are voluntarily and permanently single. "Regretfuls" are
involuntarily and permanently single, "because they kind of missed the boat."
"Wishfuls" are involuntarily and temporarily single. Members of this group
could be divorced, Fiala said. Eighty percent of divorced people do re-marry, she said.
Thursday, April 5, 2001
House votes to repeal estate tax
A story published by the Associated Press reports that the House vote to repeal the estate
tax capped a legislative blitz Wednesday when Republican leaders pushed through the
major components of President Bush's $1.6 trillion tax cut.
``It has been a good start,'' said Rep. J.C. Watts, R-Oklahoma. ``We hope the Senate will
Voting 274-154, the House passed a measure that would gradually reduce and then repeal the
tax in 2011 at a cost of $185.5 billion. Fifty-eight Democrats joined nearly all House
Republicans in favor of the legislation that was similar to a repeal then-President
Clinton vetoed last year.
After news of the passage, Bush issued a written statement that called the vote a
``victory for fairness and a vote for economic growth.''
``Today's vote is an important step toward restoring fairness in the tax code by
eliminating the double and triple taxation that results from the death tax,'' the
``I look forward to continuing to work with members of Congress from both parties to enact
real and meaningful tax relief for the American people.''
At the Senate however, things were moving in the opposite direction when they voted
tentatively to divert $450 billion from the president's tax cut to education spending and
debt reduction. Republican Sen. James Jeffords of Vermont, a leading moderate, said he may
oppose the tax cut.
Bush's tax cuts have met little resistance in the House. In March, the House passed Bush's
across-the-board income tax cut, estimated at $958 billion, and voted for a $399 billion
bill to ease the tax marriage penalty and double the child tax credit.
The Senate, divided evenly between 50 Democrats and 50 Republicans, has yet to take up any
of the bills amid efforts to reduce the total price.
Rep. Bill Thomas, chairman of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said the
House's quick passage provides momentum, during later negotiations with the Senate, for
Bush's biggest domestic priority.
Although each House bill attracted Democratic votes, most Democrats contend that as a
whole, the tax relief package jeopardizes national priorities such as education and health
care spending and debt reduction, does nothing to guarantee the solvency of Social
Security and Medicare, and threatens a return to deficits if projected budget surpluses do
``You can break the tax cut into parts, but you cannot break its effect,'' said House
Minority Leader Dick Gephardt, D-Mo. ``This is a mistake that we will pay for for years to
To meet Bush's $1.6 trillion figure, Republicans had to perform a juggling act. The estate
tax repeal, for example, reduces tax rates moderately during the first eight years, with
most of the cost coming with the full repeal in 2011 -- later than Bush initial proposal.
The tax affects estates of only about 2 percent of people who die each year, mainly
because of a $675,000 exemption that will rise to $1 million in 2006. Avoiding the tax,
which tops out at 55 percent, will require costly insurance and estate planning, and will
cause particular problems for many farmers and small businesses owners who are often
forced to sell land or assets.
Democrats say the gradual phaseout conceals the real cost, which they contend would
actually exceed $662 billion if the repeal came immediately. They offered an $39 billion
alternative that would raise the individual exemption to $2 million right away and
eventually to $2.5 million, which they believe would ease the tax burden for all but the
``We can do something real for 99.9 percent of the taxpayers,'' said Rep. Steny Hoyer,
But the House defeated the Democratic alternative on a 227-201 vote.
The House-passed bill would make a change in capital gains taxes after the estate tax is
repealed. This would alter the way assets are valued for capital gains purposes, in effect
increasing that tax when heirs sell the assets. The first $1.3 million in gain would be
exempt, $4.3 million if the heir is a surviving spouse.
Mature brides tend to dispense with
A article written by Chantal Tode' entitled "The grownup wedding mature brides are
more likely to dispense with tradition" notes that mature brides and grooms of today
are more likely to break with a traditional wedding celebrations.
"They are a little clearer about their own style and they bring that sensibility to
their wedding," explains Jill Gordon in the article, a Manhattan wedding planner with
many older clients.
Gordon's observation is based on the U.S. 2000 Census, which shows that first marriages
are happening later in life. While the median age for women was 20.3 in 1950, according to
a report posted by the American Association for Single People, it rose to 25 in 1998.
Tode' believes that it is surely even later in New York.
Her article goes on to say that not only do older couples tend to have more defined taste,
but they usually foot the bill for the festivities - which means that nobody can tell them
what to do.
Tode also shares that as an over-35 first-time bride having attended too many
cookie-cutter events, she would like to spend her hard-earned money on something so
unoriginal. Their main concern with all the wedding plans is that they throw a really
great party rather that finding a perfect wedding gown for the event.
According to Gordon, older couples often choose a shorter ceremony, colorful decorations,
nontraditional music and "a fun party in celebration of their wedding."
A large wedding party, reception line, sit-down dinner and bouquet toss however is still a
main prerequisite that mature couples want to keep. And instead of a giant meringue dress,
the bride often chooses a simple gown.
That was not the case for Polly Kreisman, a investigative reporter with WPIX-TV who was 42
when she married. She wore a classic wedding gown with layers of tulle which ended up
posing as the only hitch of the day when the top layer got caught and ripped.
But while her dress was old-fashioned, the ceremony was as freewheeling as they come. It
took place on a beach in Amagansett, L.I., and the bridesmaids were told to wear anything
they liked as long as it matched the ocean. Afterward, the guests piled into a yellow
school bus and headed to the reception in a Montauk park.
"We wanted the day to be elegant and simple at the same time," says Kreisman.
Sonia, a 36-year-old professor in Brooklyn, interviewed in the article wanted an intimate
wedding. So to keep the numbers down, she only invited her closest friends and family.
"Because I'm older, I think that I was able to make decisions with more
confidence and be more clear about what we wanted to do,"she says.
The candlelit reception on an estate outside Boston was exactly the warm but elegant
affair she and her husband had wanted, she notes.
There is one tradition that almost all brides and grooms follow at their wedding,
according to Gordon. "The cake is usually the one thing that everybody sticks
Tax tips for divorced and divorcing
A story released today by Press Release Newswire reports that tax season can be
complex for divorced and divorcing couples, according to the American Academy of
"As if divorced and divorcing couples do not have enough financial problems to sort
through, tax time can suddenly provide an additional layer of financial issues and
problems," said Charles C. Shainberg, president of the Academy.
The association offers these tax tips for the top six issues that is regularly encountered
by divorced and divorcing couples at tax time:
-- Alimony is tax deductible for the paying spouse and taxable to
the receiving spouse.
-- Child support is non-deductible to the payor and is not
taxable for the recipient.
-- Capital gains taxes on the sale of a principal residence
accrue to the title-holder of the residence, even though the proceeds from the sale are
split between spouses as part of the divorce.
-- The spouse with custody of the children controls the
dependency exemption for those children and must release it to the non-custodial spouse,
even if the court awards the exemption to the non-custodial spouse as part of the divorce
-- If you are filing or have filed joint returns, you and your
spouse are liable for unreported or underreported income, taxes, interest and penalties.
While there is a provision of the tax code for "innocent spouses" that protects
those who unknowingly sign incorrect returns, if you and your spouse are having marital
difficulties, it is probably better to file separate returns.
-- Legal fees incurred to either obtain or defend against alimony
claims are tax deductible.
"In addition, those getting divorced should realize that various tax issues can
play an extremely important role in how much of a couple's assets are preserved for them
after their divorce," according to Shainberg.
Those with questions should consult a qualified tax attorney or accountant.
Wednesday, April 4, 2001
Increase in out-of-wedlock births
changes marital patterns
A story released today by Child Trends reports that births to couples living together
account for current high levels of nonmarital childbearing. Child Trends, an independent,
nonpartisan research organization is dedicated to studying children, youth, and families
through data collection, analysis, and dissemination, as well as through basic research.
This finding is one of several in Births Outside of Marriage: Perceptions vs. Reality, a
research brief that examines nonmarital childbearing, or births to unmarried parents. The
research indicates that patterns of childbearing outside of marriage have changed since
1970 when the overwhelming majority of children (89 percent) were born to married couples.
Currently, one in three children (33 percent) is born to unmarried parents and an
increasing proportion of births are to couples that live together.
"Childbearing hasn't changed as much as marriage," said Kristin A. Moore, Ph.D,
president and senior scholar at Child Trends. "Recent declines in the percentage of
births to married couples are almost entirely due to an increase in births to cohabiting
Contrary to popular perception, most unmarried mothers have relationships with their
child's father. In the early 1990s, 39 percent of nonmarital births were to couples that
were cohabiting. This percentage increased from the previous decade.
The recent studies of unmarried women in seven metropolitan areas also show that 45
percent were cohabiting with the father of their child at the time of birth, and another
37 percent were romantically involved with the child's father, although not living with
A common view is that nonmarital childbearing is mainly a racial and ethnic minority
issue. While it is true that a greater percentage of black and Hispanic children are born
outside of marriage, births to unmarried white women almost tripled from 1970 to 1998
(from 13.9 births per 1,000 unmarried women aged 15 to 44 to 37.5 births per 1,000). In
contrast, the nonmarital birthrate for unmarried black women declined from 95.5 per 1,000
to 73.3 per 1,000 during the same period.
Hispanic women had the highest nonmarital birthrate in 1998 at 90.1 births per 1,000
The dynamics of nonmarital childbearing have also changed. The public belief is that
nonmarital childbearing is the same as teen childbearing. In1970, half of all nonmarital
births were to teenagers. In 1999, teens accounted for less than one-third of all children
born to unmarried mothers. Women ages 20 and older accounted for more than two-thirds of
all children born to unmarried mothers. Women in their early 20s also had the highest rate
of nonmarital births (72.3 per 1,000).
The research also highlighted other findings about nonmarital childbirths:
After rising dramatically for several decades, the nonmarital birth rate has declined
slightly since 1994, and the percentage of births to unmarried women has leveled off.
Only half of nonmarital births are first-born children.
Many of the nonmarital births to older women were preceded by teen births.
Most nonmarital births are unintended at conception (58 percent to never married women and
37 percent to formerly married women are unintended).
The authors of the research brief are Child Trends senior research analyst Elizabeth
Terry-Humen, MPP, senior research associate Jennifer Manlove, Ph.D, and senior scholar
Kristin Moore, Ph.D.
Tuesday, April 3, 2001
Glamour magazine investigates the
trend of single-motherhood
A story released today by Entertainment Wire reports that Glamour magazine talked to five
women who revealed why having a baby on their own has both frenzied and fulfilled their
solo lives. It started with Glamour posing questions to mothers who are single by choice;
hundreds of women responded. Of those, Glamour picked five who came to motherhood in very
unique ways for very different reasons. The story then selected excerpts from the
article of the trials, tribulations and, most importantly, joys of going solo.
"Single moms by choice is a huge trend," says Judith Stacey, Ph.D., a sociology
professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and a founding board
member of the Council on Contemporary Families. According to recently published data from
the National Center of Health Statistics, 32.8 percent of all births in 1998 were to
unmarried women, up from 18.4 percent in 1980. It was just nine years ago that Republican
vice president Dan Quayle preached: "It doesn't help matters when prime-time TV has
Murphy Brown--a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid
professional woman--mock the importance of fathers by bearing a child alone and calling it
just another lifestyle choice."
"Back in '92, I was one of the people who dared to publicly agree with Quayle,"
recalls Irina Wolfle, 39, a New York City-based ad executive and the single mother of
11-month-old Jonathon. "But eight years later, after a string of failed
relationships, I had to rethink things. When I unexpectedly got pregnant, I thought, well,
OK. Here goes." What helps Wolfle tremendously is her close knit circle of loving,
caring friends and family.Her sister, Narda Johnson, 43, quit her job to care for Jonathan
while Wolfle is at work.
Rachel Pepper, 36, of San Francisco reveals "When I hit 31, my biological clock
started ticking like crazy," reveals. "I'd just opened my bookstore, which was
very successful, and I felt that once I was financially stable, there was nothing to hold
me back"--with or without a partner. Pepper spent more than a year trying to become
pregnant. "As a lesbian, I knew I wasn't just going to get pregnant one night having
sex with the person I love." "I so desperately wanted to get pregnant that I
considered asking every handsome man I saw. It became an obsession." One year, seven
tries with artificial insemination and more than $2000 later, Pepper finally became
pregnant with her daughter, Frances, now two and a half. "When I found out, it was
the happiest moment of my life."
Beth Bush, 30, a Clinton, Mississippi, native and former administrative assistant, is also
proud of raising her one-and-a-half-year-old triplets--Bailey, Arianna, and Olivia--alone.
Her baby's father, whom she had been dating only for a few months, left around the same
time she got pregnant. Bush says her former boss, who declined to comment, tried to
persuade her to put the babies up for adoption. He even went so far as to find two
adoptive families for her. "No words fit to print could describe how mad I was,"
Bush says. "Financially, life is very difficult," Bush says. The baby's father,
who has never seen the girls, has taken a DNA test and signed paternity papers, which
require him to pay $300 a month in child support. "That's not even enough to cover
their baby food, let alone the 20 diapers a day they go through," says Bush. In an
email Bush sent to Glamour after her interview, she summed up her life as a single mom:
"Being a single mom is what you make of it. The joy I feel around (my children) is