Singles losing out to family politics, advocates claim

By David Crary

Associated Press

NEW YORK — Roughly 82 million strong, unmarried adults form one of the biggest demographic blocs in the nation. But converting those numbers into political clout is a daunting task.

When leaders of the American Association for Single People swung through congressional offices recently — complaining tax policies are stacked against them — one legislative aide challenged every point they made. Others were attentive, but some snickered and rolled their eyes.

"Family, family, family" was the message that the association’s executive director, Thomas Coleman, kept hearing, from Democrats and Republicans alike. At one point, he asked a Republican adviser why President Bush talks so often about families and so rarely about unmarried Americans.

"What’s so wrong with the word ‘single?’ " Coleman wondered. "He’s the president of all the people — why can’t he once in a while say the word? It would make people feel wanted and needed."

Census data released this month show that alternative household arrangements are increasing across the United States more rapidly than households headed by married couples. There are larger percentages of people living alone — nearly 26 percent of all households — and of unmarried couples living together.

Yet, lawmakers in Washington and state legislatures rarely target their speeches or bills at singles.

Instead, said University of Southern California sociologist Judith Stacey, unmarried adults often are disadvantaged by tax, insurance and employment policies. The government’s emphasis is on making it easier to raise a family, not to live alone.

"We have larger numbers of single people than ever in history, and yet we’re actively promoting discrimination against them," Stacey said. "It’s as though being single is a social disgrace."

For groups promoting the traditional family structure, however, it makes sense to place singles lower on the political totem pole.

"The institution of marriage has a whole spectrum of benefits for children, which spill over into benefits to society," said Matt Daniels, executive director of the Alliance for Marriage. "It’s perfectly acceptable for a society to choose, as a matter of public policy, to provide special treatment for parents who are married and raising children."

Singles-rights advocates, by and large, don’t complain about programs benefiting children. They do complain about what they perceive as inequities, such as employment benefits reserved for married workers or housing policies accommodating married couples but not unmarried partners.

Dorian Solot, co-founder of the Boston-based Alternatives to Marriage Project, said politicians have not kept pace with the increasing diversity of American home life.

"They cling to the image of cookie-cutter neighborhoods where every household is the same, yet it hasn’t been that way for a while," she said.

On the Net: American Association for Single People:

Copyright ©2001 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Talk to us

More in Local News

NO CAPTION NECESSARY: Logo for the Cornfield Report by Jerry Cornfield. 20200112
No right turns on red gets a look, a bid to expand sports betting arrives

It’s a new week. Here’s what’s happening on Day 22 of the 2023 session of the Washington Legislature

A man was injured and a woman found dead Sunday night after an RV fire in Marysville. (Marysville Fire District)
Woman dead, man burned in Marysville RV fire

The Snohomish County Fire Marshal’s Office and Marysville Police Department were investigating the cause of the fire.

The final 747 is revealed during a celebration in Everett, Washington on Tuesday, Jan. 31, 2023. The plane was rolled out Dec. 6 from the Everett assembly factory and delivered to the customer, Atlas Air. (Annie Barker / The Herald)
‘Still jaw-dropping’: Last Boeing 747 takes the stage in Everett

Thousands, including actor John Travolta, gathered at Boeing’s Everett factory to bid goodbye to the “Queen of the Skies.”

Logo for news use, for stories regarding Washington state government — Olympia, the Legislature and state agencies. No caption necessary. 20220331
Lobbyist barred from WA Capitol after ruling he stalked representative

State Rep. Lauren Davis, D-Shoreline, obtained a domestic violence protective order against longtime lobbyist Cody Arledge.

(Lake Stevens School District)
Charges dropped for Lake Stevens teacher accused of harassing student

Prosecutors won’t pursue misdemeanor sexual assault charges against Mark Hein, who “has been absolved of wrongdoing,” his attorney said.

Karla Wislon holds a champagne glass while celebrating the closing sale of her home in Palm Springs, Ca. on May 14, 2021. (Family photo)
Former state Rep. Karla Wilson, 88, remembered as ‘smart, energetic’

Wilson served the 39th Legislative district from 1985 to 1991. She died Dec. 31.

Federal agents seized many pounds of meth and heroin, along with thousands of suspected fentanyl pills, at a 10-acre property east of Arlington in mid-December 2020. (U.S. Attorney’s Office) 20201223
Leader of Snohomish County fentanyl, meth ring gets federal prison

A search of Cesar Valdez-Sanudo’s property in Arlington unearthed kilos of drugs and hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Logo for news use featuring Whidbey Island in Island County, Washington. 220118
Port of Coupeville to make offer on Oak Harbor airport

The Port of Coupeville continues to pursue ownership of the A.J. Eisenberg Airport near Oak Harbor.

James Lewis
COVID still ‘simmering’ in the county, while booster uptake remains low

Meanwhile, flu and RSV cases have plummeted, suggesting the “tripledemic” could — emphasis on “could” — be fading.

Most Read