If the Census Bureau proceeds with a recently released plan, then in a few years’ time, we will know very little about how the contours of family life are changing.
We will not even know whether marriage and divorce rates are rising or falling. For all the talk of evidence-based policy, the result will be that important debates on issues including family law, welfare reform, same-sex marriage and the rise of nontraditional families will proceed in a statistical void.
Much of what I, an economist who has studied family issues, and my colleagues in this field have learned about recent trends in marriage and divorce has come from questions in the American Community Survey. It asks people whether they have given birth, married, divorced or been widowed in the past year. Their answers allow demographers to track marriage and divorce rates by age, gender, race and education.
These data have revealed many important social trends, including the rise of sharply different marriage and divorce patterns between rich and poor, and the increase in divorce among older Americans, even as it has fallen for younger people. And they have provided the only statistical window into the adoption of same-sex marriage.
The Census Bureau is proposing to eliminate these questions. It would follow a series of steps taken over recent decades that have collectively devastated our ability to track family change. This isn’t being done as a strategic policy choice but rather is the result of a series of isolated decisions made across several decades by statisticians scattered across various government agencies who have failed to understand the cumulative effect of their actions.
But, why should they care? The decision-making body of the United States hasn’t a whisper of concern about knowledge. Science and society is even further down the list of their concerns.
In principle, tracking marriage and divorce shouldn’t be too hard. Every wedding, like every divorce, requires a trip to City Hall or the county courthouse to file the relevant paperwork. The resulting paper trail should be enough to allow analysts to map the contours of our changing family life over time. Indeed, until the mid-1990s, the federal government collated data from all those marriage and divorce certificates into a coherent set of marriage and divorce statistics that detailed the changing nature of marriage.
But in 1996, the National Center for Health Statistics stopped collecting these detailed data. If you subsequently got married or divorced, the forms you filled out still exist, but only as unexamined documents in a filing cabinet at your county courthouse…
The rationale the health statisticians offered for no longer collecting the more detailed data was that much of this information could be gleaned from a special survey taken every five years as a supplement to the Current Population Survey. But a different set of government statisticians killed that supplement in the late 1990s.
In the end, the decision to shorten the survey reflects political calculation – an effort to mollify Tea Party Republicans who tried to eliminate the American Community Survey altogether, arguing that it is an unconstitutional breach of privacy. A briefer questionnaire may yield less political opposition.
Once again, our government rolls over and plays dead for anachronistic nutballs rather than challenge their standing. What passes for leadership from elected and appointed bureaucrats in the United States wouldn’t pass muster in a Marx Brothers movie.
I’m a stem cell and reproductive biologist. I fell in love with biology when I was in high school. It was the realization that every cell in my body has the same genome and DNA, but each cell is different. A stomach cell is not a brain cell is not a skin cell. But they’re reading from the same book of instructions. With 23andMe, you get your personal genome book, your story. Unless you have an identical twin somewhere, that genetic makeup is unique to you…
I had spent many years looking at the genes of other animals — particularly mice — but I never looked at my own. Because I was so excited about it, I got two 23andMe kits for my mom and dad as gifts. It’s a lot more fun when you can incorporate your family because you can trace not just the chromosomes but individual alleles on the chromosome so you don’t just see them, but where they came from. Also, I felt I had a good handle on my family’s medical history so I was very interested in confirming any susceptibility to cancers that I heard had run in my family, like colon cancer. I wanted to know if I had a genetic risk.
I found out I don’t have any genetic predisposition to any kind of cancer, which was a great relief to me. But I also discovered through the 23andMe close relative finder program that I have a half brother, Thomas.
…We figured out that at the very bottom of your profile, there’s a little box that says “check this box if you want to see close family members in this search program.”…Dad checked it, and Thomas’ name appeared in his list. 23andMe said dad was 50 percent related with Thomas and that he was a predicted son…
At first, I was thinking this is the coolest genetics story, my own personal genetics story. I wasn’t particularly upset about it initially, until the rest of the family found out. Their reaction was different. Years of repressed memories and emotions uncorked and resulted in tumultuous times that have torn my nuclear family apart. My parents divorced. No one is talking to my dad. We’re not anywhere close to being healed yet and I don’t know how long it will take to put the pieces back together.
Sometimes, the truth really can hurt.
RTFA, wander through the twists and turns of this very modern tale. It’s not all unhappy. The anonymous author’s half-brother, Thomas, was adopted and had searched years for either of his birth parents. He has a daughter of his own who wondered about her family’s medical history.
Dear Walter: I hope you can help me here. The other day, I set off for work in my Volvo 1800 leaving my husband in the house watching the TV as usual. I hadn’t gone more than a mile down the road when my engine conked out and the car shuddered to a halt. I walked back home to get my husband’s help. When I got home I couldn’t believe my eyes. He was in our bedroom with the neighbor lady. I am 32, my husband is 34, and we have been married for twelve years.
When I confronted him, he broke down and admitted that they had been having an affair for the past six months. I told him to stop or I would leave him.
He was let go from his job six months ago and he says he has been feeling increasingly depressed and worthless. I love him very much, but ever since I gave him the ultimatum he has become increasingly distant. He won’t go to counseling and I’m afraid I can’t get through to him anymore.
Can you please help?
Dear Sheila: An 1800 stalling after being driven a short distance can be caused by a variety of faults with the engine. Start by checking that there is no debris in the fuel line. If it is clear, check the vacuum lines and hoses on the in-take manifold and also check all grounding wires. If none of these approaches solves the problem, it could be that the fuel pump itself is faulty, causing low delivery pressure to the carburetor float chamber.
I hope this helps
Two women were the first gay couple to marry in Michigan on Saturday, one day after the state’s ban on gay marriage, approved by voters in a landslide in 2004, was scratched from the state constitution by a federal judge.
Glenna DeJong, 53, and Marsha Caspar, 51, both of Lansing, were married by Ingham County Clerk Barb Byrum in Mason just after her office opened at 8am Saturday. Byrum said it was an honor to marry same-sex couples who have waited too long for this day.
“I figured in my lifetime it would happen,” Caspar said. “But now, when it happens now, it’s just overwhelming. I still can’t believe it. I don’t think it’s hit me yet.”
DeJong and Caspar have been together for 27 years. DeJong called it a day of “sheer joy,” adding that Michigan should not “waste taxpayer dollars and cause more turmoil” by pursuing a stay on gay marriage as Attorney General Bill Schuette did immediately after Friday’s ruling.
Clerks who handle marriage licenses in Michigan’s 83 counties said they would start granting them to gay men and lesbians – at least three as early as Saturday. DeJong and Caspar first learned the courthouse would be open after Byrum tweeted about it early Saturday morning.
At least 50 people had lined up in the Oakland County clerk’s office in Pontiac, on the outskirts of the Detroit metropolitan area, when clerk Lisa Brown arrived to open it at 8am local time, carrying a heart-shaped balloon. Brown’s staff handed out paperwork to couples who were undeterred by the Michigan attorney general’s immediate appeal…
Not that the state’s Republican-dominated legislature cares about all love and marriage.
It isn’t known when a federal appeals court in Cincinnati will respond to Attorney General Bill Schuette’s request for a stay while an appeal is pursued…”A stay would serve the public interest by preserving the status quo … while preventing irreparable injury to the state and its citizens,” he said…
The historic decision by US District Judge Bernard Friedman, who said the ballot box is no defense to a law that tramples the rights of same-sex couples, followed a two-week trial that explored attitudes and research about homosexual marriage and households led by same-sex couples…
He praised April DeBoer and Jayne Rowse, two Detroit-area nurses who are raising three children with special needs. They filed a lawsuit in 2012 because they’re barred from jointly adopting each other’s children. Joint adoption is reserved for married heterosexual couples in Michigan.
“In attempting to define this case as a challenge to ‘the will of the people,’ state defendants lost sight of what this case is truly about: people,” the judge said…”It is the court’s fervent hope that these children will grow up ‘to understand the integrity and closeness of their own family and its concord with other families in their community and in their daily lives,'” Friedman said, quoting the Supreme Court.
Bigots have always quoted the “will of the people” when they live in a state backwards enough to endorse bigotry. If not, there is no shortage of sophistry to generate appeals against progressive change, modernizing of 14th Century morality.
UPDATE: 300 couples manage to get marriage licenses before judge responds to Republican government of Michigan and stops gay marriages. Conservative homophobes can rest easy this morning. Second-class citizenship is restored to Michigan at least temporarily.
A woman in Kuwait found the way her husband ate his peas to be such a “shocking sight” that she filed for divorce after they had only been married for a week…The woman decided that her husband’s habit of eating peas with bread instead of a fork was an issue that they could not work out.
That’s not the only recent divorce that has nothing to do with infidelity, abuse or communication issues.
Another woman recently filed for divorce because of the way her husband squeezes toothpaste. “We are always arguing,” she reportedly told her lawyer. “I keep telling him that he should squeeze in the end of the tube, but he stubbornly refuses and keeps squeezing it in the middle. He is so obstinate.”
It’s not always just the ladies…
In another recent case, a man ended things with his wife because she wouldn’t bring him a glass of water. After she told him that there was a servant who could do it, they had an argument and he told her their marriage was over.
“One critical issue is that many spouses should use their engagement period to know each other well enough to decide whether they should go on with their union,” said a Kuwaiti legalist. “The traditional times when spouses really met each other after their marriage are over, so there are now good opportunities to know the future life partner and decide whether he or she is the right one.”
Or something like that.
It is unclear when the practice started, but for years certain counties in Alabama have been refusing to provide undocumented immigrants with marriage licenses. Since the early 2000s, attorneys general and federal judges across the U.S. have stated that denying an undocumented immigrant a marriage license violates a couple’s “fundamental right to marry” as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Samuel Brooke, a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center who works on the center’s Immigrant Justice Project, said the purpose of asking for identification is “to make sure that the person being married, that their name and identification, that their legal name is being recorded correctly, and that is the only real purpose.”
In 2011, when Brooke first heard that some Alabama counties were requiring “proof of lawful immigration status” in order to issue marriage licenses, he was shocked. It was the same year that Alabama passed House Bill 56, one of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the nation.
“This law had everything in it,” Brooke said. “But the one thing this law said was, don’t touch marriage licenses. We recognize that marriage is a fundamental right for all people; we recognize anyone should be able to get married. It doesn’t matter their immigration status or their history, they should be able to get married as long as they provide their legal name…”
Judge Sheila G. Moore, the probate judge of Winston County in northeastern Alabama, said in a telephone interview in November that anyone applying for a marriage license “must have proof that they are here legally.”
“It’s the state law,” she said. “Once they get married they think that makes them legal, but it doesn’t.”
I hope you didn’t think that qualifying to be a judge in Alabama means you’re actually knowledgeable enough, really qualified to be a judge by 21st Century standards.
Former President George H.W. Bush and his wife, Barbara, were the official witnesses of a same-sex marriage between two women in Maine over the weekend…
The former first couple witnessed the private ceremony on Saturday in Kennebunk between Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, according to Jim McGrath, a Bush spokesman.
Clement posted a photograph on her Facebook page of President Bush signing a piece of paper as the couple, close friends of the Bushes, watched and held champagne glasses…
Maine is one of 13 states that allows gay marriage.
In June, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out a key part of the Defense of Marriage Act, which barred same-sex couples from federal marriage benefits. But the high court declined to rule on whether gay men and lesbians have a fundamental right to marry, leaving it to states to decide.
The ruling has led to legal challenges in federal and state courts to laws that restrict the rights of gays and lesbians.
Several other notable Republicans have voiced support for gay marriage, including former Vice President Dick Cheney and Ohio Senator Rob Portman.
But same-sex marriage is opposed by most Republicans. A Gallup poll in July found 66 percent of Republicans were against making same-sex marriage legal in all 50 states.
Good for you, George. You ain’t running for re-election, anyway. It’s clear the political party you used to lead is headed downhill as fast as it’s headed backwards.
Dozens of prominent Republicans — including top advisers to former President George W. Bush, four former governors and two members of Congress — have signed a legal brief arguing that gay people have a constitutional right to marry, a position that amounts to a direct challenge to Speaker John A. Boehner and reflects the civil war in the party since the November election.
The document will be submitted this week to the Supreme Court in support of a suit seeking to strike down Proposition 8, a California ballot initiative barring same-sex marriage, and all similar bans. The court will hear back-to-back arguments next month in that case and another pivotal gay rights case that challenges the 1996 federal Defense of Marriage Act.
The Proposition 8 case already has a powerful conservative supporter: Theodore B. Olson, the former solicitor general under Mr. Bush and one of the suit’s two lead lawyers. The amicus, or friend-of-the-court, brief is being filed with Mr. Olson’s blessing. It argues, as he does, that same-sex marriage promotes family values by allowing children of gay couples to grow up in two-parent homes, and that it advances conservative values of “limited government and maximizing individual freedom.”
…The list of signers includes a string of Republican officials and influential thinkers — 75 as of Monday evening — who are not ordinarily associated with gay rights advocacy, including some who are speaking out for the first time and others who have changed their previous positions…But the presence of so many well-known former officials — including Christine Todd Whitman, former governor of New Jersey, and William Weld and Jane Swift, both former governors of Massachusetts — suggests that once Republicans are out of public life they feel freer to speak out against the party’s official platform, which calls for amending the Constitution to define marriage as “the union of one man and one woman…”
In making an expansive argument that same-sex marriage bans are discriminatory, the brief’s signatories are at odds with the House Republican leadership, which has authorized the expenditure of tax dollars to defend the 1996 marriage law. The law defines marriage in the eyes of the federal government as the union of a man and a woman.
Congressional Republicans still have no qualms about spending taxpayer dollars to support a baseless law. One, in fact, that doesn’t represent the advancing position of the whole nation. That’s criminal compared to moderates who have decided to support a libertarian position on marriage now that they don’t have to run for re-election.
Mind – it’s not that I don’t think progressive Americans should deny their support. Hey, I wouldn’t even mind a Cardinal or two disagreeing with Rome about something as sensible as contraception. It’s just worth a chuckle at the hindsight that seems to appear when the pressure of appeasing the most ignorant and backwards members of a political party is removed.
Nakisha Hardy spent the first nine months of her marriage on a remote Army base in Afghanistan, a tour of duty punctuated by sporadic mortar blasts and constant e-mails to her spouse back home.
The strains of that separation lingered even after First Lt. Hardy returned to Fort Bragg in September. So she signed up for a military retreat to help soldiers and their husbands and wives cope with the pressures of deployments and relocations.
But less than 24 hours after arriving at the retreat, she and her spouse were told to leave. The military chaplains who organized the program last month said that the couple was making others uncomfortable. They said they had determined that under federal law the program could serve only heterosexual married couples.
Anyone surprised a biblethumper decided bigotry was more important than helping service personnel?
Lieutenant Hardy is a lesbian in a same-sex marriage who had hoped that the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in 2011 would allow her to fully participate in military life. But she and many other gay and bisexual service members say they continue to encounter a raft of rules and regulations barring them from receiving benefits and privileges routinely accorded to heterosexual service members…
Gay marriage is now legal in nine states and in Washington, D.C. But because same-sex marriages are not recognized under federal law, the spouses of gay service members are barred from receiving medical and dental insurance and surviving spouse benefits and are not allowed to receive treatment in military medical facilities. Spouses are also barred from receiving military identification cards, which provide access to many community activities and services on base, including movie theaters, day care centers, gyms and commissaries.
Gay service members who are married are not permitted to receive discounted housing that is routinely provided to heterosexual married couples.
Don’t waste too much time on the crap states’ rights excuses offered by politicians and pundits. The military can ignore that hogwash easy as pie whenever they honestly feel like doing so.
No – this is one more instance of professional bigots in the Pentagon and Congress quietly backing up the good old boys club that still won’t give up on their stupid ideology.
Jim Scales and William Tasker have been a couple for 35 years, but only on Tuesday were they able to legally marry, thanks to Maryland’s new same-sex marriage law, which went into effect with the new year.
Maryland was among three states this past November where voters approved laws allowing same-sex marriages.
At Baltimore City Hall, a celebration erupted with the first official marriage ceremonies just after midnight…Scales and Tasker made up the first couple in Baltimore to marry under the new law.
“Jim and I met in 1977 and at that time I just didn’t really believe that gay people would ever see the day when they could marry,” Tasker told CNN affiliate WBAL.
Scales agreed: “This is as happy as I’ve ever been, to be able to spend the rest of my life with Bill — legally — and to show the rest of the gay community that this can be done.”
Seven couples exchanged vows in Baltimore in the first hours of the new year.
Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake opened City Hall for the couples, and officiated the ceremonies herself.
“It’s a very emotional night, an incredibly meaningful night,” she said. “There’s so many people who have a chance now to have the life they have wanted for themselves and for their family, and I’m so proud of Maryland, that we chose equality over hate.”
In many other states – led by Christian fundamentalists – peers in ignorance continued to embrace hatred, fear of equal opportunity inscribed within our constitution. An historic document given little more than lip service by politicians who trot out the Bill of Rights whenever running for election.