Archive for the ‘inside AtMP’ Category
And did you see bell hooks’s fabulous quotation about the importance of alternatives to marriage vs. “marriage equality” in the print edition of Ms. Magazine? It’s worth the cover price! Here’s another presentation of her wise words, from the Ms. Blog:
I think the emphasis should return to the core struggle, which is the struggle for civil rights, the protection of anybody in long-term partnerships, and that should include a friend. There’s just a whole world of need out there, and need for respect for caregiving, for who does the work.
AtMP was founded in 1998. I was hired in 2005. You could say that AtMP has passed through its organizational childhood and adolescence, and is now ready for a new leader to take it into adulthood. Please help us find the perfect person by sharing this job posting widely.
If you’re thinking of applying, please don’t delay! We’ve already received over 35 applications, and I hear that many of them look good.
If you’re on our email list, you recently saw my hopeful predictions for 2011. Here’s a bit more detail about what they mean and why I think they could come true.
Political candidates in majority-unmarried districts will drop their old “families first” slogans and start campaigning “for every single one of us.” An important use of the decennial Census is to redraw Congressional district lines so that each district contains roughly 1/435th of the population (that’s a simplification, of course). After the 2000 Census, our friends at Unmarried America produced a wonderful list of unmarried majority cities. We already have two volunteers willing to help crunch the latest Census figures, and we already have great feedback about what unmarried voters want candidates to say. We’ve sketched out a plan to find and draw attention to Congressional districts where most adults are unmarried. If you’re good with data and/or publicity, we can use your help to get this off the ground!
Scientists will discover that marital status discrimination is bad for people’s health, urging companies to treat unmarried employees fairly as a way to reduce healthcare costs. A fantastic advisory committee is helping us develop a research framework that could demonstrate the impact of marital status discrimination on public health. Our objective is to build widespread, high-level recognition that correlations between marital status and health outcomes are caused by laws or regulations that use marital status to determine access to healthcare. Demonstrating causality will support AtMP’s position that marital status discrimination in healthcare is a social justice problem to be solved.
Congress will rewrite the welfare law, replacing the 1990′s “marriage-only” preamble with words like: “the most important factor in a child’s upbringing is whether the child is brought up in a loving, healthy, supportive environment.” Those very words are in the preamble of the House bill mentioned in my last post – it gained 39 co-sponsors and supportive feedback from the administration last year. AtMP started advocating these changes a decade ago and we’re committed to seeing it through to success.
Major foundations will give AtMP grants to hire a full-time researcher / organizer to advance these and other projects. For the first time, a well-known LGBT foundation has invited AtMP to request a grant, and an experienced grant writer has volunteered to help me write a most compelling proposal. Wish us luck!
I first became interested in the work of the Alternatives to Marriage Project when I was in graduate school and working on my Sociology dissertation entitled, “A Family of One: Work-Life Balance in Single Person Households.” I was intrigued by the notion that people living alone had to struggle with boundaries between their time at work and time at home in ways that was not reflected in the research on work-life conflict among married, partnered and parenting individuals.
My own research showed that people living alone spend more time at work and more time with people outside their households than their peers. Additionally, “live alones” struggle with the line between their own autonomy and their desire for connection to others. Finally, live alones must work to define boundaries between work and home because they do not have partners or children to provide them with external boundaries.
This research topic came directly out of my personal experience as someone who happily lived alone for 10 years and was part of an extended friend group that served as my family and support system. While I now live with my partner, I am still confronted with issues that demonstrate how marital status discrimination impacts my life, from an inability to share health insurance to constant questions on when we will get married.
From the first time I began studying families in Sociology while an undergraduate in college, I recognized that families come in many configurations and I wanted to find ways to advocate for alternative family models. Rather than focusing on one “right” type of relationship or family, I believe that it is important to recognize that carework happens across family forms and all people deserve the right to fulfillment and support no matter their relationship status or style.
AtMP provided me with great resources and interesting discussions when I was merely a quiet member. Now, as a member of the board, I am happy to step up to advocate for equality across families and relationship statuses. My hope is to help others recognize that marriage is not the only way to signify a committed relationship and that people in all relationship and living situations – including living alone – are part of our larger community and deserve the same rights and benefits as married individuals.
Last Friday, Jess and Akilah helped me send out over 200 invitations to those of you who gave generously in prior years. To ensure good karma, over the weekend I sat down to do my personal year-end giving. Since I’ve had to fundraise for a living for the past 14 years, I’m especially conscious of the donor experience. I try to be the type (if not size) of donor I’d most like to have on AtMP’s giving roster, and I try to treat AtMP’s donors as well as (or better than) I’m treated by the organizations I donate to.
I’d truly love to hear what works for you. If you’ve given to AtMP, how can we make your giving feel even better? If you haven’t, is it because of something we have or haven’t done?
Here are some things I’ve learned as a donor.
- having a plan really helps. I used the Inspired Philanthropy workbook about 10 years ago and it made my giving process more organized, purposeful and satisfying. Each year I check in with myself, write a few lines about what causes most concern me, and adjust my percentages.
- helping organizations treat me right makes me feel better about them. Simply telling them to address me as Nicky (rather than stuffy ‘Lisa-Nicolle’ or just-not-me ‘Lisa’) encourages me open their letters instead of throwing them away.
- giving online took a huge leap of faith, but really is convenient. I committed to making more of my donations online this year, especially to organizations that use the system that AtMP plans to adopt next year, so I can test it out. As for writing checks, it’s more efficient at the desk than on the bed, for obvious reasons.
- Some of my best donations cost only 44-cents. When I get letters from organizations that don’t interest me, I send them this note: “Thank you for sending me information. I appreciate your work. However, my personal philanthropy is directed elsewhere. Please take me off your mailing list and use your resources to attract other donors.” AtMP has received a few notes like that; while it stings a little, it’s much better than wasting time and being an annoyance.
The Census Bureau is starting to release lots of new data, plus new tools for finding and using data. AtMP needs volunteers to find and compile the new numbers about people who live alone, live together, live with extended families, etc. If you can help, please contact us! (Hint – this is a great project for students between semesters!)
Today the Census is releasing American Community Survey (ACS) estimates covering a five year period (2005-2009). Think of the ACS as a “long form” questionnaire that is given to a sample of a few hundred thousand people in order to estimate what the whole country probably looks like. While the decennial Census counts everyone’s age, race, and where they live, the ACS estimates details like education, income, whether people were formerly married, whether they’ve had children, etc. And there are many other surveys and estimates too.
Last week the Census used data on births and deaths, international migration and Medicare enrollment to construct estimates of the population that are totally separate from the (still unannounced) results of the 2010 Census. This yielded five different estimates of the number of people resident in the United States, from 305,684,000 to 312,713,000. The Census press release says they really want people to understand “the uncertainty in these figures. The 2010 Census provides the official population count, but demographic analysis provides an honest presentation of alternative estimates.”
In January, American FactFinder gets a total overhaul, which is important because it is our primary tool to access all the new 2010 Census data as well as other key data sets such as the ACS. They’re offering an online video and a tutorial to demonstrate the enhanced features and functions of the new and improved FactFinder, including how to conduct a basic text search, view search results and select a data product to view.
The geek in me is very excited about all this. In September, I attended a Census Bureau presentation for the media and asked whether the five-year or three-year ACS estimates are superior to the most recent one-year estimate. They said that the one-year ACS is as precise as you need to be when you want to describe the nation as a whole; but for smaller areas the three- or five-year figures are more precise. This corrects my previous understanding.
The executive in me needs to know that some smart, reliable AtMP members are ready to help digest all the new info, so we can promptly and accurately update the ever-popular statistics section of our website.
As a rabbi I have a complicated relationship to marriage. On the one hand, I believe in the transformative power of ritual and want to facilitate meaning-making and connection whenever we are able to have it. We live in an uncertain world where opportunities for celebration should not be passed by, and certainly people making bold commitments and affirmations of love are one of those opportunities.
On the other hand, as a spiritual leader, I can not stay silent when I see the harm marriage has long been in our culture. A coveted seat of privilege, marriage reinforces systems of privilege and oppression in our culture, dividing us in harmful ways, whether through ill-advised immigration laws, through cutting people off from their support networks in hospitals, by making invisible non-romantic love and connection, or by distracting the LGBTQ community to see marriage as the ultimate goal for gender and sexual liberation.
As a board member with AtMP, I am fortunate to be able to advocate for concrete changes in the way that our government links marriage and civil rights and to fight for the rituals, celebrations, and connections that we all so much deserve.
I have been polyamorous since 1999, when the woman I was then dating introduced me to the word. I embraced the idea immediately, as I felt it was much more consistent with my way of being in the world than monogamy had been. I’d been monogamous during my marriage, and while I was faithful, I felt constrained in ways I wasn’t happy about, especially when I learned that I was the only faithful partner in my marriage!
I now have two wonderful partners, Matt and Katherine. They recently had a commitment ceremony to celebrate their marriage of 6 years and their commitment of 10 years, and I was a central part of their ceremony. A guest remarked as he was leaving “That was the most openly poly wedding I’ve ever been to, including my own.” I’ve been with them for 5 years, and we’re happier now than ever.
Personally, I’m a practicing emergency physician and health policy analyst. My connection with AtMP also dates from 1999, when a former board member and close friend told me he was on the board and felt they were a great organization and I ought to consider supporting them financially. He was right, and I’ve been a donor since 2000. I’ve been able to help AtMP with issues around hospital visitation, health care decision making, and other health issues as they relate to unmarried relationships.
Last year I was invited to be on the board, an invitation I was delighted to accept. I’m looking forward to our ongoing work around health care issues, as well as new research into the legal status of marriage as it relates to public health.
Tom Amoroso is a member of AtMP’s finance committee and leads a new working group on changing the organization’s name.
A few years ago, I attended the wedding of a co-worker. Every word of the service was in the Vietnamese language. The service was beautiful, but I missed most of its meaning because I do not speak Vietnamese.
It seems to me that within a particular culture, marriage is like a language, having its own vocabulary, grammar, and dialects. There are people whose “first language” is the language of marriage. They learn it at a young age. The way the “marriage language” is organized makes sense to them — sequences of marriage, divorce, marriage, divorce, and so on.
As a Unitarian Universalist minister, I am delighted to officiate at marriage ceremonies or at union ceremonies for members of the congregation I serve. That role is important as an expression of the relationship between congregant and minister. However, when I am outside the role of minister, my “first language” is that of friendship, not of marriage. The way that friendships begin, evolve, sometimes end, but more often shift into another kind of friendship – that way of relating makes sense to me.
The vocabulary, grammar, and dialects of friendship have shaped my world view for decades. In particular, I am an advocate for singles, for people in non-traditional relationships, and for people who identify as bisexual. I am proud and honored to serve on the Alternatives to Marriage Project Board of Directors.
I live in southern California and enjoy bird watching and photography. I have recently started gardening with drought-tolerant plants. My formal education includes a B.A. in journalism from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, an MBA from Pepperdine University, and a Master of Divinity from Starr King School for the Ministry.
Ann Schranz is a contributing editor for the Unmarried Blog and a leader of AtMP’s strategic communications team.
The Unmarried Blog is delighted to announce changes and improvements!
The blogroll is starting to grow, thanks to Kyla, one of our new contributing editors. Look for new additions at the lower right side of your screen, and feel free to suggest more.
Book reviews, long a staple of our website and newsletter, will become regular features on this blog. Jess, our book review editor (and communications assistant) is preparing a great lineup. Please tell us if you want to be a reviewer, or if you know of an upcoming publication that relates to AtMP’s mission (we tend to cover non-fiction written for general readers, but you might see occasional fiction and film reviews as well).
Profiles of board members, interns and other volunteers (another longstanding newsletter feature) will also appear via blog. AtMP truly relies on volunteer leadership and legwork. We’re proud of and impressed by the wide range of people who donate their time, talents and energy to ending stigma and discrimination. And we’re always recruiting!
The blog will soon start featuring articles by AtMP members, including the ever popular Jaclyn Geller. Jaclyn will also serve behind the scenes, together with Kyla, Rebecca and Ann, as contributing editors to recruit and review articles from readers like you. If you have a post in mind, please send us a note.
We’re always improving our website too. Most recently, we upgraded the search function at the top of every regular web page. Thanks Meaghan!