- The Washington Times - Friday, November 3, 2000

ORLANDO, Fla. In their first presidential debate, Al Gore said the word "family" 13 times and "parents" four times. George W. Bush referred to "families" twice and "parents" once.

Neither said "single" or "unmarried," so it's no small wonder that Yvonne Farrell feels left out. The 38-year-old programs assistant at St. Alban's parish in the District is unmarried and says none of the White House candidates is paying her any attention.

"I go through the campaign literature … and all I see is family, family, family," said Miss Farrell, who is divorced with no children. "They shouldn't act like we're poison."

Single, childless people are casualties of the battle between Democrats and Republicans over which party can wave the family-values flag higher, said Thomas Coleman, executive director of the American Association for Single People, a Los Angeles-based advocacy group.

Having been cast as opposing family values in past presidential races and tainted by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Democrats feel they have to "look more family oriented and say 'families' more than the Republicans," Mr. Coleman said.

"They want to win the family values debate," he said. "We have nothing against that, but how about a little more balance?"

Even Ralph Nader, a bachelor who is the Green Party's presidential candidate, has ignored issues important to singles.

Nearly 80 million people or about 40 percent of adults are widowed, divorced or have never married, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

To rectify the situation, the American Association for Single People has initiated a $114,000 advertising campaign drawing attention to unmarried, childless voters. Ads have run in USA Today and the Los Angeles Times. They will appear later in the Village Voice, L.A. Weekly and Student Leader magazine.

"Are you one of the 80 million single or unmarried adults ignored by the George W. Bush and Al Gore campaigns?" the ad says. "How many ways are we discriminated against? Let us count them for you."

According to the ad, single people receive fewer job benefits, such as health insurance for spouses and children. They often are lumped into a "high-risk" class by insurance companies and are charged higher insurance rates than married co-workers. And they are denied "family" discounts for roommates or partners.

There is no federal protection against marital bias in employment, housing or business transactions, according to the ad.

Natural Law Party candidate John Hagelin, who is on the ballots in 41 states and is a member of the American Association for Single People, said the major party candidates are ignoring a large segment of the electorate.

"There is a continuous pandering to working middle-class families," said Mr. Hagelin, a childless divorcee. "I don't understand the pandering to that important interest group when there are as many single people, and they don't seem to be mentioned."

Singles may never become a potent political force because the group is always changing.

"There are always people entering it and there are people leaving it," Mr. Coleman said. "When you're a woman or if you're black, you're that for life."

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