A Very Impressive Start
A few months ago, each member of Congress
received a packet in the mail from AASP. It contained a letter from the Executive
Director and our March 2001 newsletter focusing on the unfair taxation of single and
unmarried Americans. We included a short questionnaire which highlighted several key
areas of concern.
The following month we sent another letter,
informing members of Congress that AASP would be in Washington from May 1 through May 4.
We invited each of them to meet with us. We also sent a letter to the
Republican National Committee (RNC) and the Democratic National Committee (DNC) with the
One week before our arrival, we placed a 2/3
page ad in the Washington Post -- opposite the federal page. The headline read
"Unmarried Americans Deserve to Know Why." The ad listed several areas in
which unmarried taxpayers were being treated unfairly. It also announced that AASP
would be in Washington the following week -- again inviting members of Congress and party
leaders to meet with us.
We had 30-minute meetings with the policy
staff of five Representatives and seven Senators -- from both parties. We also met
with staff of the RNC and DNC, and with the President's speech writer. Thomas F.
Coleman, Executive Director of AASP conversed with the staffers while Stephanie Knapik,
Director of Public Affairs, observed and took notes. (See pages 2 and 15 for
more details on these meetings.)
AASP sent representatives to
the nation's capitol during the first week of May 2001. It was a historic trip since this
was the first time that a national group representing the interests of single and
unmarried Americans had made personal contact with every congressional office.
"In 10 percent of the
offices, the staff greeted us with enthusiasism," said Michael A. Vasquez, production
manager of AASP. Some of the staffers said "I'm glad you are here. I'm
Michael Patino, a volunteer
and member of AASP recalled other greetings. "Another 10 percent were hostile or rude
to us, snickering and rolling their eyes as if to say 'What next?' But the vast
majority of staffers were professional and polite."
We need some feedback.
Write to your two Senators and to your Representative. Ask them if they read our
Now for the Follow Up
We had two main reasons for going to the
Capitol. First, to underscore the fact that with 82 million unmarried adults in the
nation, the political conversation in Washington should expand beyond the concerns of
"working families," parents, and the so-called "marriage penalty."
Second, members of Congress have an obligation to represent all
constituents -- and over 40 percent of the adults they represent are unmarried workers and
We stressed the importance of elected
officials reaching out to single and unmarried adults as a normal part of ongoing
communications to their constituents. They should say the words "single"
or "unmarried" every so often, just as they say "families" or
"parents." More importantly, they should let unmarried constituents know
they care about their problems. Senators and Representatives should invite single
and unmarried people to write to them.
In some meetings, we were reminded that
communication is a two way street. We were asked whether single people cared about
politics, whether we voted in proportion to our numbers, whether we wrote letters to our
As difficult as our trip to Washington was,
that was the easy part. The hard part lies ahead -- stimulating unmarried Americans
to write letters and to vote. If we want to be taken seriously, we must participate.