Last week, Column One
focused on new data from the Census Bureau showing that the
majority of households in the United States are now headed
by unmarried Americans.
My commentary highlighted
some of the issues which elected representatives and
corporate executives will need to address in order to
achieve more fairness for this new unmarried majority in
their roles as workers, consumers, and taxpayers, in
addition to people in power giving more attention to
Besides analyzing the new
census data as a national statistic, the numbers reveal that
23 states and
more than 389
cities have unmarried majorities in terms of households
and living arrangements. They also show that 46
Senators represent states, and 155 U.S.
Representatives represent districts, with unmarried
Equal rights activists with
a little bit of creativity can transform the raw data into
a multitude of opportunities for education and advocacy.
Unmarried Americans can use
these new statistics as a reason to contact elected officials
who represent unmarried majority states, cities, or
districts. These officials may not be aware that the
majority of households which they represent are headed by
unmarried adults. They may not have thought about
equal rights for single people or may not know about the
prevalence of marital status discrimination.
If you live in one of the
23 unmarried majority states, you could write to your
Governor to emphasize this fact. You could ask what
the Governor's position is on marital status discrimination
in employment, housing, and business practices -- and
inquire about what his or her administration is doing to end
the unfair treatment of unmarried residents of your state.
If you live in one of the
389 cities with an unmarried majority, you could write to
the city's mayor, citing the percent of unmarried households
he or she presides over as chief executive of the city.
Does the city have a local civil rights law? Does it
include "marital status" as a prohibited form of
discrimination? Does the city have a Human Relations
Commission, and if so, does that agency have jurisdiction to
address the needs of unmarried and single people?
As for the 201 members of
Congress with unmarried majority constituencies -- senators
and representatives alike -- they also could be contacted by
fax, mail, or telephone. (E-mail messages to Congress
members won't have much of an impact and probably won't
generate anything more than a canned generic response.)
You could let your senator
or representative know about the new census numbers. You
could also ask whether he or she would support or sponsor
legislation to add "marital status" to the jurisdiction of
the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the U.S.
Civil Rights Commission, as well as the equal rights mandate
of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Such letters may have more
impact if you also prime the political pump by sending a
copy of your letter or letters to local media. Write a
letter to the editor of your newspaper about your concern
for equal rights for the new unmarried majority and attach a
copy of the letters you have sent to government officials.
Send a fax or make a call to a talk radio show in your area,
suggesting that they devote airtime to the issue of equal
rights for unmarried Americans.
These letters to officials
and media might be timed to coincide with Unmarried and
Single Americans Week (Sept. 17-23). Mention the
commemoration of "Singles Week" --
www.nationalsinglesweek.com -- in your written
correspondence or verbal communications.
If you belong to an
organization which advocates for equal rights (such as the
Alternatives to Marriage Project) or fights for civil
liberties (such as the American Civil Liberties Union), ask
them to take organizational action on one or more of the
suggestions raised in this column.
emergence of a new unmarried majority is an impressive
statistical fact, but politicians are more impressed with
personal contact from constituents. So contact them.
is mildly interested in demographic trends, but radio
producers and newspaper editors are more interested in
specific stories of unfairness or concrete examples of
discrimination. So give them what they want. Be
specific. Be emotional. Be yourself.
have to let the new census data collect dust on
a library shelf. Make the numbers come alive. Use
them as a
tool for advocacy and education.
know what responses you receive and I'll share this
information in a future edition of Column One.)