Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Are Singles Discriminated Against?

In the United States, marriage and employment offers a citizen certain rights or access to things that non-marrieds don't have. Mostly it offers cost drops in getting healthcare, tax breaks, or buying into any number of group plans be it memberships to a Box Store, or car insurance. Now generally things have relaxed a bit, and a household at the same address get those perks if you will. Which I guess perks are different than right and privileges. Withholding or granting rights and privileges seems kind of hoity toity.

In Canada, England, France, Australia, and New Zealand for starters, being a citizen of that country entitles you to the same rights and privileges of any other citizen of that country. If you need healthcare, an ambulance, decent housing, work or child care, as a citizen you have the same right and access to those services as a single, married, divorced, employed or unemployed. It doesn't matter. You are a citizen. Citizenship is the criterion.

In the United States then, the issue gays wanting to marry have brought to the surface the question, Why is marriage an institution through which the government can deny or provide certain rights and privileges, especially to its tax paying citizens? If gays want the right to marry in order to access certain rights and privileges denied them by the government, wouldn't it follow that anyone single is also denied the same rights and privileges? Singles who don't marry are just as single as gays who want to marry and are prevented legally. We have the right and choose not to use it. Yet if all citizens had the same rights as citizens, marriage could be for love, family, children, not economics, pensions, healthcare etc.

So is being single a discriminated position to have in America, in terms of not having the same rights and privileges as anyone else?

If all American citizens were given the same rights and privileges across the board that are currently denied some, then we'd need less paperwork, bureaucracy and yes, expense. Government workers wouldn't have to look for all the ways you might not qualify for something, but rather how you could. Oh, you're a citizen? Great, here you go. Oh you are married? Not Married? Single? Gay? Oh heck, it doesn't matter. Your marital status doesn't allow you more access or less access. It's all good.

Most of my straight friends never married. Many of them are Canadian, so they have health coverage, pensions, everything their married friends have. And if anyone gets divorced, you still keep your own health care, pension etc. Things don't get lost or reassigned in marriage or divorce from you as a citizen. How could it? You are still a citizen. And it is attached to your social security number. That relationship stays steady whereas the others may not be. My single American friends don't talk much about the legal rights and privileges they don't get because they haven't married. We saw unhappy marriages, so often getting into marriage doesn't appeal, so we feel, hey, maybe I have more personal rights not being married? At least under my own roof.

Yet to fight for the right to marry for anyone who wants to marry, it is important. Yet to me, the bigger issue is really that every individual in America who is a citizen of this country deserves the same rights and privileges as any other citizen. Single or married we pay taxes to help in the shared things we each need to keep this country running and healthy. Many of us pay taxes and provide support for things such as our public schools which we may never need directly. Yet single taxpayers for example, gay or straight, help pay these costs. We do that for the higher good. Instead, should we be asking that some of our tax contribution be redirected towards services we can gain access, like good healthcare coverage, pensions, etc.? Mmmmm a thought.

Discrimination by denying rights and privileges based on a person's marital status or employment is not a friendly practice. Or culture. We are all citizens. We each deserve what one another deserves.

3 comments:

rebdakota said...

Thoughtful comments, Anne.

On the issue of singles --whether gay or straight -- taking it on the chin in terms of economic advantages, you're right. Taxes, insurance, penions, all of that.

On the issue of the state providing benefits to some and not others based on marriage, you're right about that, too! There are over 1,000 federal rights and responsibilities that are conveyed by marriage (and another 100+ conveyed by each state). Far better to take your idea, of providing benefits based on citizenship instead.

Rebecca Dakota, Albuquerque

Anonymous said...

Read Bella DePaulo's great book called "Singled Out: How Singles Are Stereotyped, Stigmatized, and Ignored, and Still Live Happily Ever After"......It will open your eyes to the myriad ways that singles are being screwed over.....

John A. said...

What if all the benefits where instead translated to costs? What if the tax deductions for marriage where expressed as a singles tax?

People often don't see the economic effect that a discount for one group translates to a cost for another.

Tax money is pooled, and the money that singles pay goes into costs incurred by married people. Of course you could say that the money that married people pay goes to costs incurred by single people, except that married people are the ones who get the discount.

So, singles are effectively drafted to make a higher contribution that is used to pay for the expensive programs that only serve married people.

And, it doesn't matter that many of us have chosen not to have children; we still have to pay for a portion of their upbringing, and the amount that we have to individually pay through tax dollars is more.

Well, at least we get to vote on laws affecting how those tax dollars are used. But, if we had full representation, we'd get to join the PTA as well.