Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category
Recent research on families made up of people who do not share blood or legal ties supports AtMP’s belief that society should recognize the importance of diverse relationships. Dawn Braithwaite at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln finds that “people who have voluntary family see them as different from close or best friends in that they are expected to be permanent relationships and to fulfill roles played by family members. … Most people find voluntary family important and a great source of understanding, companionship, and support.”
The research team suggested several directions for further study, and wrote a case study of communication styles in one such family. It’s fascinating stuff! Thanks to the Council on Contemporary Families for introducing us.
Great news: the executive branch will stop defending the section of the Defense of Marriage Act that prevents the federal government from recognizing state-authorized marriages that are not configured as one man + one woman. Does this open the door to regulatory recognition of same- and different-sex domestic partnerships and civil unions, or only same-sex marriages? For example, does it obviate the need for legislative action to end taxation of DP benefits as income, or to give plus-one benefits to federal employees? Legal eagles, please advise!
Facebook will start letting users pick domestic partnership and civil union in its list of relationships.
Ever-single, 83-year old, non-violent intellectual Gene Sharp is credited with “inspir[ing] dissidents around the world, including in Burma, Bosnia, Estonia and Zimbabwe, and now Tunisia and Egypt.” I’m inspired, too!
Thanks to AtMP members Marissa, William, Meaghan & Michele for these recent notes. Keep ‘em coming!
“I just saw an awesome segment of an interview with Oprah Winfrey on CNN.com in which she expresses her views on marriage, and I wanted to pass it along. I just love knowing that such a successful woman as Oprah shares my views on this subject!”
“Check out ‘Social historian Stephanie Coontz ‘Stirs’ Up ‘The Feminine Mystique’ 47 Later’ on NPR. I believe there are many more layers to what she discusses here, but still… I’m a huge fan of Stephanie Coontz. My old favorite is Dr. Coontz on Fresh Air. A truly astonishing and concise 20 minute explanation of the provenance modern “traditional” marriage.”
“File this one away under the ending stigma part of our mission: George Clooney, bachelor. Also, caught an interview with Ricky Gervais following his hosting of the Oscars in which he spoke to the idea that he has no reason to get officially married and has been living in a committed relationship with a woman for 25 years.”
When former first lady Laura Bush said “I also know that when couples are committed to each other and love each other that they ought to have the same sort of rights that everyone has,” she was clearly speaking in the context of same-sex marriage. Wonder what she thinks about unmarried different-sex couples, or non-romantic caring relationships like siblings or friends?
A reminder not to over-romanticize romantic relationships (and not to over-focus on marriage) came in the form of horrible news about domestic and intimate-partner violence, particularly the murder of Yeardley Love at the University of Virginia. Coverage of this case revealed that “1 in 5 Virginia homicides resulted from intimate partner violence in 2005,” including “victims who had intervened or were caught in the crossfire of intimate partner violence,” and that “51% of all female homicide victims were killed by an intimate partner.” If that weren’t sad enough, protecting people from violence has a marital status discrimination angle. As Newsweek noted
despite [the boyfriend's] violent past, Love couldn’t have filed a restraining order against him even if she wanted to. Virginia is one of eight states that excludes people in dating relationships – in other words, unmarried couples or partners – from getting protective restraining orders.
Thanks to Kevin for the sad news that Michelle Triola Marvin passed away.
Ms. Marvin was one party in the law suit that established in California law the right of unmarried partners to sue for joint property on grounds that their partners had violated a relationship contract. Thirty years later, many courts recognize property rights for unmarried partners, but there is no consistent law on this. In 2000, the American Law Institute recommended that all de facto domestic partners should have property rights.
On the less wonky, more human side: It is really neat to learn that, although she became famous as a result of her six-year unmarried relationship with Lee Marvin, Michelle’s ultimate life partner was Dick Van Dyke. They were unmarried to eachother for 30 years! Our condolences to Mr. Van Dyke and their family.
Thanks and congratulations to AtMP member Whitney J. in Florida, who sent us copies of pages of her textbook along with this note:
I have been taking a class on human sexuality this summer. The reading was pretty interesting, and I was enjoying it, until I got to Chapter 10. I was pretty disheartened at the description of cohabitation, and I thought I would share it with you. Maybe someone could send the texbook authors some less biased statistics and information? I really hate to think that students learning from this text may second-guess themselves and their relationships because two people decided to cherry-pick the research to use in their textbook.
AtMP’s student interns and I are impressed and inspired that Whitney is such a critical thinker and activist!
Whitney highlighted these lines from the textbook: “…these marriages [that follow cohabitation] are more likely to end in divorce than are marriages not preceded by cohabitation. … the seeds of divorce are sown in the pre-engagement relationship. … men in pre-engagement cohabiting relationships were less committed to the partner.” And, “…married men and women are significantly more satisfied than are cohabiting or single men and women in a continuing relationship.” The pages of the text that she sent did not offer any further caveats or alternate analysis.
As Whitney knows, AtMP has been addressing this kind of blunt negativity about unmarried relationships for over a decade. We’ve collected a variety of expert interpretations about the data on cohabitation, especially cohabitation and divorce. We also wrote our own careful, nuanced analysis of data that was widely misreported back in 2002.
Following Whitney’s suggestion, we’re sending this information to the textbook authors – a married couple!
I keep an eye out for news that affects the cultural context surrounding AtMP’s efforts to reduce singlism and marital status discrimination, as well as news about specific projects we’re working on. This week two aspects of the attacks on President Obama and his health care reform efforts caught my eye.
First, the over-publicized, utterly fabricated stories about the President’s birth certificate. How could that nonsense possibly be relevant to us? I have a Google news alert for “illegitimacy + birth,” and I’m concerned any time I see an increase in the use of that outdated combination of words. It’s worth remembering that the concept of illegitimacy was abandoned just a few decades ago, and that some people (who prefer divisiveness to diversity) keep trying to bring it back. AtMP has consistently spoken out against calling children “illegitimate,” from educating the conservative Washington Times in 2001, to chastising an anti-immigrant group in 2007. The current lies about President Obama don’t call for our intervention. But, it is nice to recall that (after being born in the U.S.) he was raised in perfect picture of family diversity, experiencing a single mother, an extended family household, a step-parent, and half-siblings with a variety of geographic and cultural origins. Just like so many of us!
Second, the mis-representation of a very small, very good element of health care reform – a proposal to help more people write advance directives. AtMP spends a lot of energy informing people that we all have the right to name our medical decision-makers and state our wishes through advance directives, regardless of our marital status. Too few people take advantage of this power, so we’re glad to see that Barack and Michelle Obama have written their advance directives, and that legislation might encourage more people to do so. Here’s how it’s explained at Salon.com:
The legislation would order Medicare to pay for consultations between patients and doctors on end-of-life decisions, which it currently doesn’t cover. But the consultations wouldn’t be mandatory; if your grandmother doesn’t want to go talk to her doctor about end-of-life care, she won’t have to. Because Medicare doesn’t pay for this kind of planning now, only 40 percent of seniors who depend on the government insurance say they have an advance directive that tells healthcare providers what measures they do and don’t want used to prolong their life, even though 75 percent say they think it’s important. The lack of planning actually costs a lot of money. Medicare spends billions and billions of dollars annually on expensive treatment during the last year of a dying patient’s life. Without allowing Medicare to pay for end-of-life consultations, it’s hard to know whether patients even want to go to such expensive lengths.
“Society obviously benefits from healthy relationships. But healthy relationships are not limited to marriage,” said the Rev. Craig Schwalenberg, assistant minister at First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee, which recognizes civil unions by same-sex partners.
“Attaching a stigma to those who choose not to marry or to divorce for good reason is not something I’d be interested in promoting,” he said.
To all you long-term members, allies and newbies:
April has been so eventful!
Nicky was in the process of helping AtMP move a NEW office in Brooklyn. We are very excited about that! But, our mailing address and phone number are still the same.
We’ve also been hit with the Travel Bug. Jessica (AtMP intern) was in Boston for Spring Break, Nicky heads to DC this Friday and Albany this Tuesday. AtMP is trying to pass a new bill that would provide greater hospital rights for New Yorkers.
We are now back and in the process of updating our blog, so sit tight everyone! New info will be posted on the blog within the next few days, if not hours!
Keep track of our blog. We will not disappoint!
A great way to start the new year is to read informative, interesting and up-to-date blogs! AtMP has compiled two lists of noteworthy blogs that cover issues and topics we care about. Enjoy!
Blogs that are frequently updated and invaluable:
Beyond (Straight And Gay) Marriage: Nancy Polikoff’s blog is a great addition to her book (same title). It covers all of today’s major legislation and court cases that affect both straight and LGBT unmarried people.
Living Single: Bella DePaulo’s blog on Psychology Today is a great resource for information about being single in today’s society. Her posts also help debunk many of the myths about singlism. Also be sure to read her wonderful book, Singled Out.
Onely: This blog also tackles singlism while pointing out that being single does not equal loneliness.
Rachel’s Musings: Rachel Buddeberg is a member of AtMP’s board of directors. Her blog reflects some of her core values: the abandoning of matrimania and the recognition of ALL families, both married and unmarried.
Single File: This advice column by Susan Deitz helps answer individuals’ questions about being single; a very helpful resource!
Blogs that are new and/or less frequently updated, worth keeping an eye on:
Bella DePaulo: This is DePaulo’s other blog available on the Huffington Post website. This blog is yet another worthwhile read.
Kay Trimberger’s Blog: This is a link to Kay’s website which contains a list of blogs she has contributed to these past two years. Her articles also focus on being single.
Open Fidelity: Open Fidelity is a website and blog about non-monogamous relationships. The creator, Ann Sharman, writes various articles about the subject and how to remain faithful while polyamorous.
Singletude: A Positive Blog for Singles: Its contributors truly are proud of being single and discuss topics like family, friends, careers, hobbies and of course, singlism.
The Unmarried Estate :This new blog by a young lawyer promises discusses issues that affect unmarried Americans in regards to estate planning.
Do you have blogs you’d recommend? Let us know so we can add them to this list !