By Rosy Barren
It’s November and The Next Family wants to give back to all it’s readers by announcing a Thanksgiving Giveaway! To say thanks, The Next family has assembled a mystery basket full of family friendly prizes that will be customized to the winners and will include gifts from our sponsors, Converse Eyewear, Melissa & Doug and Amy Conway. We will post clues as to what might be in the basket through out the month… and trust us there are some great prizes!
The rules are simple: Like The Next Family Facebook page and you’re automatically entered to win prizes from Converse Eyewear, Melissa and Doug, Amy Conway and more! Longtime readers you’re in luck, if you’ve previously liked our Facebook page you’re already entered! If you’d like to increase your chances, share this Facebook post about our giveaway on your wall to receive an (1) additional entry. The giveaway will be held until Thanksgiving, November 28th at 12:00am PST and we’ll announce the winner shortly after. Stay tuned for clues as to what prizes are in the basket. Thank you for your continued support! With love, The Next Family
Married Americans spend more than those in any other marital status category, across age groups. Americans who have never married spend significantly less, particularly for those younger than 50, suggesting that if the marriage rate increases, overall spending in the U.S. may increase and benefit the U.S. economy.
Married Americans report a daily spending average of $102, followed by $98 among those who are living in domestic partnerships, $74 by divorced Americans, $67 by those who are single and never married, and $62 by those who are widowed. As shown in the accompanying graph, across all age groups, those who are married spend more than those of other marital statuses.
Gallup asked Americans to report how much money they spent the prior day, excluding payments for normal household bills and major purchases such as homes or cars. The figure gives an estimate of discretionary spending. The current analysis is based on January through September 2013 Gallup Daily tracking interviews with more than 130,000 U.S. adults.
These results suggest that if more Americans are married, and fewer are single/never married, overall spending might increase. Similarly, if more Americans are in domestic partnerships and fewer are single, that too would appear to be related to higher spending.
The Relevance of Income
Married Americans spend more than the average American in part because they have higher-than-average incomes. Single Americans spend less, at least in part because they have lower-than-average incomes. Those in domestic partnerships spend almost as much as those who are married but have lower average incomes, similar to single Americans’ incomes, suggesting that domestic partners in some sense overspend what would be predicted from their incomes alone. This hypothesis is supported by additional research showing that those in domestic partnerships have a relatively high rate of spending when income and other demographic factors are controlled for.
The U.S. marriage rate has declined in recent years, but recent Gallup analysis shows that it is possible that the marriage rate in the United States will go up in the future, based on a pent-up demand for marriage. Based on the spending habits of married Americans compared with their single counterparts who have never married, such a change could be expected to give a boost to the economy, if those marriages come from the ranks of those who are single/never married. Similarly, an increase in the percentage of Americans living in domestic partnerships as opposed to being single would have an apparently positive impact on the economy. If, however, Americans in the future become less likely to jump from single status to marriage and more likely to move into domestic partnerships, the impact on the economy would be less significant.
Brought to you by The Seattle Lesbian
TNF: How did you meet Jeanine?
Steph: We met on Match.com in May of 2003. I was on Match and Jeanine had just moved to the Bay Area (CA) from Colorado and was encouraged by a friend she was staying with to “just try it (Match)”. That friend kept pushing, another friend helped to write her profile, and that evening she was on Match.com.
The way the Jeanine tells it….
“I posted my profile but I wasn’t going to pay to sign up – I wanted to see what this was all about. As I went looking around I realized
that there was only one person on the whole site that I would actually like to talk to or meet. I told my friend this and signed off.
The next day I got a notification that I had an email from a Match.com member. It was that person, the only person that I would actually like
to talk to or meet. Oh geez, now I have to “pay” to be able to reply to her.”
Well, it’s a good thing Jeanine did – I am “that person”.
After about 18 months of ups and downs and trying to figure out if each were “the one”, we moved in together (September 2005), into Jeanine’s house – merging our cats, my bird, and all of our “stuff”. Another adjustment period…
Then, in December of 2005 we spent Christmas in Colorado – my 2nd trip back to CO to meet/be with Jeanine’s family – and we flew back on New Year’s Day. Sitting at the Denver Airport on that day I said – we need to move to Denver… long story short.. we sold our house, I quit my job (Jeanine’s company let her stay on from Colorado), and we moved.
TNF: Where do you live?
Steph: Currently we live in Littleton, Colorado. We moved from the Bay Area where I was from and Jeanine had been living for about 4 years. Jeanine is a native of Colorado and my large, close-knit family was moving/spreading out so we moved to Littleton where Jeanine’s family is. We built a house not far from where Jeanine grew up and recently sold it. Next month we will move into our new house which should be completed the last week of November. Currently we are living with Jeanine’s mom and dad until our build is done.
TNF: Are you married?
Steph: Although we are not married right now (the state of Colorado does not allow same-sex marriages), we have been “officially” together since April 2005. In March of 2012 we had the Schmalz Family Commitment Ceremony where our pastor from California flew in to join us as a couple in front of about 100 friends and family from 7 different states. Our kids call it the “Big Party” where we all got our family necklaces.
TNF: Is it tough being a gay couple where you live? Do you feel accepted?
Steph: Coming from the San Francisco area to Littleton, I was not sure how we would be accepted. We were building a house in a new neighborhood and no one knew anyone – I was nervous. Luckily, I had no need to be. We were accepted and made many good friends where we lived. In fact, just 6 doors down from us was another lesbian couple with twin boys.
Now that our kids are in school I find myself checking in with teachers/administration, etc… just to make sure that everyone is okay with the whole “2 mom” thing. The most common response is something along the lines of – huh? OH, 2 moms, 2 dad, 1 mom, 1 aunt – makes no difference to us… family is family.
Of course there is an exception to every rule and you might have heard about this story – a bakery in Lakewood, Colorado that refused to make a cake for a gay couple for their wedding. Most of the articles mention that the January prior to this couples’ request, the bakery refused another couple – that couple was us. Here are a few links (there are a ton if you Google my name – Stephanie Schmalz – and Masterpiece Cake):
This TV piece went nationwide; there was a bigger piece that ran locally. We got calls from all over the country and found it in multiple countries too. We were on the front page of the Huffington Post and in this blog.
TNF: What has having a family meant to you?
Steph: To me having a family means the world – they (Jeanine AND my kids) are my world! I was one of those people that grew up never really thinking about that fairy tale wedding, or that “knight in shining armor” that my Nana always told me would come my way. I knew at an early age that I was “different” and I didn’t really know why until I was a little older. As a way to protect myself, in case I never fell in love or never let myself fall in love, I always said that I don’t see myself married or having kids. Everyone always told me that I was the “Pied Piper of Children” and I would say that I was sure I’d always have children in my life but didn’t really think I’d have any of my own.
After meeting Jeanine and being a couple in a way that I never thought I would be able to experience, openly, I couldn’t imagine us not having kids – a family of our own. While motherhood is definitely my most challenging “job” thus far, it is rewarding beyond words and makes my heart full of joy!
For Jeanine, who is adopted, having a family meant creating a blood line of her own. She always knew she was adopted and her parents and brother ARE her family. However, for her, once we starting thinking about who would carry our children she expressed the importance of creating something of herself that would carry on the way of heritage and genealogy.
Along those same lines, since we are a same-sex couple, in order for me to be on the birth certificate of the children I had to go through the process of adopting them. Luckily Colorado offers 2nd parent adoptions and we were able to complete that process for all three kids shortly after each of their births. I am proud of their birth certificates that say “mother” and “mother”.
Thank you Stephanie and Jeanine for sharing your story and your beautiful family pictures with The Next Family.
By Brandy Black
I am maniacal about my children’s sleep routine. When I got pregnant I knew nothing of what I was doing, feeling totally overwhelmed, I began to read lots of books and what I learned was that sleep is very important for children, for anyone really. But kids learn and grow in their sleep and this stuck with me. There are many different ways to parent, and lots of alternatives for sleep training or lack there of but I followed some very simple rules with my little ones and lucky for me all three of my kids sleep from 7PM to 7AM and most importantly they find sleep on their own. With my first child the schedule was probably not as important as it is now with 22-month-old twins. With two sharing the same room, a routine is a must for mommy survival.
I followed E.A.S.Y from a book called The Baby Whisperer, a book that I will forever keep a copy of for my children’s children. Eat, activity, sleep, you time, this is the basic structure I followed with babies. The rule is not to feed them to sleep because they then become reliant on another person or thing (bottle) to help them sleep, the concept is for babies to find their own sleep so that they will never have to struggle with bedtime. I have enough trouble getting myself down at night and sometimes need to be coaxed away from my thoughts by a mindless television show. I wanted to do them a favor and allow them to fall asleep like my wife does. I swear, the minute her head hits the pillow, no matter the time, she is out. Lucky girl.
The trick is to start a routine, one that tells the child’s brain, it’s bedtime, get ready for it. So we always begin, even at 2-days-old with pajamas and sometimes a bath, after this we read a couple books and then a song. When I begin to sing, they start yawning, their little bodies melt into me as I rock them. One song, then, put them down in their cribs and say goodnight. We never stray, same thing every night no matter who is watching them. We once had a sitter tell us that the minute she put on the bedtime song, it was Pavlovian, our daughter’s eyes began to close and she made her way to the bed. It works but you have to maintain consistency. This is easy for me, I’m a rules girl, I have methods and practices and discipline. My wife on the other hand changes things up daily and routine is not in her nature. She fought it but ultimately realized that kids like to know what’s coming, they like to feel in control and the more you can set them up for success the more secure they are.
In June, the Supreme Court declared Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional thereby allowing the federal government to recognize same-sex marriages performed in the current states where it is legal. This sea change in the recognition of same-sex marriages has led to significant new changes in public attitudes with strong implications for the American economy and workplaces. In a new Harris Poll released Thursday and commissioned by Out & Equal Workplace Advocates, nearly half (49 percent) of gay and lesbian adults would consider changing jobs if their employer required them to transfer to a state where same-sex marriages were not recognized, compared to just 30 percent last year.
The new survey also reveals that two-thirds (67 percent) of all Americans today, regardless of their feelings of approval or disapproval, believe that marriage equality is “inevitable everywhere in the U.S.”
“With the end of DOMA and our recovering economy, major corporations and employers that operate in states that don’t yet recognize same-sex marriage will find it tougher to recruit and keep the best LGBT talent,” said Selisse Berry, Out & Equal Founding Executive Director. “Same-sex marriage recognition by the federal government is an historic breakthrough. It’s now time to renew our efforts to pass a federal employment nondiscrimination law that is truly inclusive of sexual orientation and gender identity.”
The U.S. Congress is today considering passage of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) that would provide protections against workplace discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. If this legislation were enacted, the new poll reveals that at least one-third (34 percent) of LGBT adults who are not yet open about their sexual orientation or gender identity at work would become comfortable “coming out” at work. Regrettably, the survey also reveals a need for greater education on the issue since nearly eight of 10 (76 percent) adults wrongly think it is currently illegal, under federal law, for an employer to fire someone because they are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender (LGBT).
The annual 2013 Out & Equal Workplace Survey was conducted online by Harris Interactive in conjunction with Out & Equal Workplace Advocates and Witeck Communications, among 2,577 U.S. adults, of whom 2,150 indicated they are heterosexual and 371 self-identified as lesbian, gay, bisexual and/or transgender (including an over-sample of gay and lesbian adults). Begun in 2002, this survey has become a trusted annual barometer of attitudes surrounding LGBT issues in the workplace and is the longest-running national survey of its kind.
When it comes to career advancement, the new survey reveals a clear majority (60 percent) of gay and lesbian adults also would consider declining a job promotion if it required them to transfer to a state where same-sex marriages were not recognized, compared to only a third (33 percent) when asked last year. Also, eight out of 10 (79 percent) gay and lesbian adults, other factors being equal, would prefer a job with an employer in a state where same-sex marriages are recognized over an employer in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriages, compared to 68 percent in 2012.
Past polls show that non-LGBT allies are dedicated partners in the fight for workplace equality and, according to the new survey, they are growing in number. More than a third (35 percent) of heterosexual adults consider themselves to be an ally of LGBT people, compared to a quarter (27 percent) who declared so two years ago. Also, more than one out of four (28 percent) heterosexual adults say they keep informed about issues of importance to the LGBT community, compared to just a fifth (19 percent) in 2011.
Transgender Americans remain especially at risk for workplace discrimination, yet increased visibility can lead to more respect and acceptance. Nearly eight out of 10 (77 percent) heterosexual adults agree that how an employee performs at their job should be the standard for judging an employee, not whether or not they are transgender, compared to 67 percent of heterosexual adults tested in 2007.
The Out & Equal Workplace Summit will open on Monday, October 28, and close on Thursday, October 31, 2013 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nearly 2,500 attendees are expected from more than 30 countries. LGBT employees and straight allies, along with human resources and diversity professionals, representing a broad cross-section of the nation’s leading companies—a majority from the Fortune 500—are set to participate in this year’s Summit, focused on achieving workplace equality.
For more information about the Summit or to register, please visit www.outandequal.org.
By Melissa Doody
By Evie Peck
Have you ever run into someone you used to know and they aren’t nice to you?
My friend Marie just told me that happened to her. She ran into someone she had known for a period of time who pretended she didn’t remember her and at first I was like, “Ugh, what a bitch.” And then I remembered… ooops. I did that, not too long ago. It had nothing to do with the woman I ran into – it was all about me.
I was in my baby class, feeling a little nervous about being the only single pregnant woman in the room. I tried to exude confidence and security. Fake it till you make it. I reminded myself how excited and happy I was and it didn’t matter what any of these expecting couples thought of me.
As I was relaxing a bit, a very pregnant woman came up to me. “Evie! Hi, remember me from high school? I’m Tanya Lester? I was a few years younger.”
OK. First of all, reminding me that I’m so old was off putting and second of all now I’m reminded how high school Evie didn’t have a boyfriend, didn’t really even date and felt weird about it – it was as if I was the same single person. When I was 17 assumed I’d have a conventional family and a successful acting career…. Would Tanya think I’d failed at both? Was I a failure? I felt like a total freak.
All of a sudden, I felt defensive, like I had to prove that I was better than old high school Evie… except, was I?
“Oh, hi,” I said, in a distant, bitchy tone, as if I didn’t remember her but I was humoring her and being friendly to a stranger. So many levels I was playing – (I was such a good actress.) I remembered Tanya. I didn’t know her well, but under other circumstances, I certainly would have been more friendly. My instinct was to act cool and I guess, superior – like I was so awesome and successful, I didn’t have room in my brain for old high school acquaintances. I needed to feel stronger, so I was a bitch.
She introduced her husband and asked me when I was due. We were due days apart. I was distant and well, bitchy. I just really shut it down. I just kind of nodded and didn’t say much and let her feel foolish as she tried to bring up ways I might remember her.
I didn’t want her to see I was scared or think I was a failure or feel sorry for me.
For the strangers in the class, it didn’t matter so much what they thought of me, but this girl knew me in high school. I wasn’t prepared for that.
Maybe I missed an opportunity to have another playmate for my son.
I guess the real point of this story is if someone you know is rude or bitchy to you – it’s probably not about you… it’s about them.
That was over two and a half years ago. I was a different person back then; so excited but also scared and nervous. I was learning how to be a Mom Solo and what that meant to me.
Being solo isn’t such a huge scary thing anymore at all. I don’t really give it much thought – except when I blog.
Now, it’s all about my son. It’s all about being nice, setting a good example and making the world a wonderful place for him to live in. I don’t have too much time to worry about what people think of me. I like it like that!
Photo credit: www.maracaseyshoots.com
Marriage equality advocates in California, Oregon and Washington now have the opportunity to make a real difference in making the freedom to marry a reality in Hawaii. On Thursday, October 24 at 7:30 p.m. PT, the National Equality Action Team (NEAT) is having a national “Night of Action” for Hawaii in which volunteers can phone bank from home and other locations.
NEAT is a nearly 50-member action-oriented coalition of national, regional, state, and local organizations chaired by Marriage Equality USA (MEUSA).
Tracy Hollister, MEUSA Program Manager explained: “Just as loving, committed couples’ genders should not restrict their freedom to marry; neither should their state of residence. The rest of the country, particularly National Equality Action Team partners and volunteers on the West Coast, who are in a better position to phone bank for Hawaii, stands with Hawaii in their historic bid for marriage equality.”
“We are excited that fair-minded people on the West Coast and around the country can easily make a difference simply by going to www.theneat.org and signing up,” said MEUSA Board Member Brendan Brawner. “Even in New York, the ‘City That Never Sleeps,’ we will have an in-person luau phone bank party happening live in Times Square at 10:30 p.m. ET on October 24.”
Brian Silva, MEUSA Executive Director, concluded: “Since 1991, Hawaii has been at the forefront of the fight for equal rights for LGBT families. Today, MEUSA takes another important step as an early member of the Hawaii United for Marriage coalition by organizing supporters across the country to take action in support of our friends and family in the Aloha State.”
By Brandy Black
TNF: Tell me about your family.
Kristin: We live in Middletown Pa, Bucks County. We met a mile away from our home now. Diane owned the house across the street from my parents’ house. As neighbors we became friends and feelings began to form. We dated for about 9 months before we became official and moved in together. Ten months later we were engaged; yes the cliché of proposing in Magic Kingdom at Disney World under the fireworks. We took our time and planned and paid for our wedding by ourselves since neither of our parents had the financial means. Our official wedding day was August 28th of 2010, which took place on the beach of Asbury Park, NJ. Then we traveled back to PA to fulfill the reception that would be close to home.
TNF: Do you have any kids?
Kristin: At this time, we have one child, he is 6 years old. We found him on an adoption website within our state, almost like a catalog of foster children that need permanent homes. We fell in love immediately and just knew this was meant to be…and it was. He is a biracial, low functioning, autistic little boy that we love more than words can express. We were told he may never be able to talk, plus many other things that people take for granted, it was not promised would ever happen for him. He is now talking quite often and has already overcome the challenges we were told would continue through out his life. Now, we are opening our home to foster/adopt up to 4 more children. We feel that after seeing our boy live through 3 foster homes in 2 years and face neglect and abuse, we need to save as many children as possible.
TNF: Do you feel different from other families?
Kristin: Living in the area that we do, there are many prejudices that we see quite often. It went from having an issue being in a straight bar/restaurant looking “obviously gay” to now being 2 mommies with a biracial child. Our area is very judging if you are not the typical Caucasian straight family. We deal with things as we go, trying best to protect our child and future children in every possible way. We do have a few very close friends here that are family to us, that are, of course, the exception to the rule. We have made the decision to not adopt a child that is dark skin African American only because being adopted is hard enough, let alone adopted as an African American that will stand out with 2 white mommies. We could never let a child deal with all that ridicule that would come living where we do.
We feel very different from a lot of families that we know. We don’t know what it is like to go through child birth, feel the growth, and witness his birth. We don’t even have baby pictures of our son. But on the other hand we know what is it like to fight for something and we battle every day to make him feel that we will love him for the rest of our lives, unconditionally. Not only is it tough bringing an adopted child into the mix of friends and family, but being an autistic child raises that bar to a whole new level. We have to weigh the surroundings and how it may affect him. Simply going to a birthday party means thinking it through first, if not the right setting it can throw him completely off. He can’t ask for things or have conversations with other children; he doesn’t have the capability. Those that judge us or him have found their way out of our life, those who haven’t are considered family or showed the meaning of family and are the world to us.
TNF: What does having a family mean to you?
Kristin: Having a family has meant the world to both of us. We are extremely proud of how far we have come and all that we have accomplished. Now we are not just the lesbian couple that show up to kiddie parties with no kids, we are a part of the group for once. We fought hard to have what we have and remember that fight everyday, we can’t take a thing for granted.
Thank you Kristin and Diane for allowing us to interview you. You are a true inspiration and we hope you keep in touch as your family grows.