election victory now in hand, Jon Corzine is New Jersey's
governor-elect. He is also unmarried.
When Corzine is
sworn into office in January, he will join the unofficial
"single governor's club" -- a very small number of chief
executives who lack a "first lady" or "first man" as a spouse.
The number of
unmarried politicians who have served as a state governor is so
small that until just a few years ago it would not have been
possible for them to have formed a single governor's caucus.
evident that "marital status" is a matter of pride for married
governors. Just check out their websites and campaign
literature and you will find their spouses on display in a
governors tend to have a knack for camouflaging their single
status and deflecting attention away from their personal
lives so that voters won't notice they are single.
If a poll
were taken today asking Americans to name some current or former
governors who were unmarried while they were in office, chances
are most people would scratch their heads and pause.
hesitation might be expected since it is rare when voters elect
an unmarried candidate to serve as chief executive of a state.
Despite the fact that a growing number of women have become
governors in recent years, the most usual pattern seems to be a
married man serving as governor with a first lady by his side.
Americans might remember the name of an unmarried governor from
the past if he or she grabbed the spotlight often enough or made
a big enough media splash to capture public attention.
Richards from Texas who, during a keynote speech at the 1988
Democratic National Convention, said that former president George
Bush couldn't be blamed for his misstatements because he was
"born with a silver foot in his mouth?" How about California's
Jerry Brown who got the gossip mills churning in 1979 when he flew off
to Africa on a vacation with singer Linda Ronstadt?
So maybe a
few people might remember these flamboyant former governors who
were single. But who can name the three current governors
who are unmarried?
Only three of the 50 current governors are not married.
live in Arizona might be aware that Governor Janet Napolitano
has never married but those who live elsewhere have probably
never thought of her marital status. Apparently it is not
a fact she wants to share with the public. Although the
biography on her official website mentions that Napolitano is an
avid sports fan and a friend of the arts, there is no mention
anywhere that the state's top Democrat is single.
gained national attention when she became the first Republican
in many years to be elected Governor of Hawaii. But the
fact that she was single (having been married and divorced
twice) was of little note.
and Lingle keep a low profile in terms of their unmarried
status. In fact, they are so loathe to be identified with
the "s" word, that both of them declined to accept
honorary memberships in the American Association for Single People
Democrat and the Hawaii Republican also rejected requests to issue proclamations recognizing National
Unmarried and Single Americans Week. Never mind that
married governors in dozens of states granted such requests.
Governor Ruth Minner, a widow, has been a little more open
minded than Lingle and Napolitano on this score. She joined
AASP a few years ago and later issued a
proclamation declaring the third week of September as Singles
Week in Delaware.
Corzine will handle his single status while he serves as
Governor of New Jersey remains to be seen.
support a hike in the minimum wage which would greatly benefit
low-income singles? Will he favor a bill to require
employers to allow parents to keep unmarried adult children on
their health plans until age 26, thereby bringing health care to
more unmarried residents of his state? Will he want to end
the state inheritance tax law which taxes estates of unmarried
residents but exempts transfers to surviving spouses?
It would be terrific if Jon
Corzine would mention single people in his Inaugural Speech,
just as he is likely to mention families, parents, and a host of
other distinct classes of people. It would be even more terrific
if all four members of the "single governor's club" would pay
more attention to the needs and concerns of single people and if
they would stop trying to downplay their own marital status.
Governors, you don't have to hide
your single status. It's okay to be
single. Really, it is.
Unmarried America 2005
Thomas F. Coleman, Executive Director of Unmarried America, is an
attorney with 33 years of experience in singles' rights, family
diversity, domestic partner benefits, and marital status discrimination.
Each week he adds a new commentary to Column One: Eye on Unmarried
firstname.lastname@example.org. Unmarried America is a nonprofit
information service for unmarried employees, consumers, taxpayers, and