Wednesday, September 30, 2020
Monday, September 28, 2020
After preying heavily on the elderly in the spring, the coronavirus is increasingly infecting American children and teens in a trend authorities say appears fueled by school reopenings and the resumption of sports, playdates and other activities.
Children of all ages now make up 10% of all U.S cases, up from 2% in April, the American Academy of Pediatrics reported Tuesday. And the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Monday that the incidence of COVID-19 in school-age children began rising in early September as many youngsters returned to their classrooms.
Read more here.
Friday, September 25, 2020
From Naomi Cahn (UVA), writing for Forbes:
The 2020 American Family Survey, Family Life During a Pandemic, has just landed, and it provides both surprising – and unsurprising – insights into how American families are experiencing work, life, and family in the midst of the pandemic.
On issues concerning how economics affected their families, on race and gender, on parenting, and on policy preferences, here are some of the key Survey findings.
· First, on economics, almost a third of respondents said they or a partner had experienced a loss of income, and even more reported an employment change. Black and Hispanic families were more likely than white families to report that their financial situation was worse now compared to before the pandemic (p. 19)....
· Second, on gender, not surprisingly, men reported that they shared household chores equally, while women reported that they did more, a finding that was fairly consistent across income groups. But, somewhat surprisingly, men and women agreed on the amount of work their children performed. Men were more likely than women to say “I feel as if I am failing as a parent” (32 to 22%), and to report that their children had “become more difficult” (31 to 19%) (p. 27). They were also more likely to report that they were struggling with the home and work balance (40 to 31%). That may be because, speculates Professor Gregg Strauss, co-director of the UVA Family Law Center, “the experience of spending more time at home around their children affects men and women differently. Women always performed a greater share of domestic work, while men are now seeing more of the domestic and childcare labor and, hence, experiencing more of its stress than usual.”
· Third, on parenting. Black and single parents were less likely than white, or Hispanic, or Republican respondents to report that they “are failing as parents.” (p. 23)....
· Fourth, policy and politics. Approximately 75% had discussed either policy brutality or Black Lives Matter with other members of their family (p. 5) But Democrats and Republicans differed on what they identified as the most important issues facing families, with 71% of Democrats and only 32% of Republicans responding that economics was among the most important issues, and 67% of Republicans compared to 27% of Democrats responding that cultural issues (such as lower rates of church attendance and “sexual permissiveness”) were among the most important (p. 17). And Democrats were three times more likely to believe that Black families confronted obstacles that white families did not (p. 7). As Camille Busette, a Senior Fellow at Brookings, noted at an event surrounding the report’s release, this has concerning implications for the racial wealth gap. Nonetheless, members of both parties believed that the government’s relief checks had been helpful (p. 30).
Moving forward, the report shows the need for continuing governmental, social, and economic support for families, regardless of their demographics. Moreover, as BU Law Professor Linda McClain and I point out in a forthcoming article, it may also be that, as more people spend time at home, the value we accord child care and teaching will increase.
Read more here.
Thursday, September 24, 2020
From Fleming & Curti PLC:
The South Dakota Supreme Court explains the law
In the trial court and on appeal, Aren argued that the gift had been to the couple, not primarily to Matt. That was evidenced by the fact that they signed the contract as a couple, and they both took on responsibility for the loan. Besides, she pointed out, she had actually worked on the farm alongside Matt, and it was clearly marital property.
The state’s high court agreed with Aren. A gift to a married couple, ruled the justices, is just that: a gift to both of them. The nature of such a gift should be judged at the time of the transfer, not by later reengineering. Even though Dennis now maintains that he primarily intended to benefit Matt, at the time the transaction was with both of them. Plus they took title in their joint names.
That means that the property is now owned by the two of them equally. And even if that were not true, the fact that Aren worked on the land with her husband, and made payments on the note along with him, would have made at least some of the farm joint property anyway. But the court wanted to be clear: there’s no need to get to the fact that Aren contributed to management of the farm, since her name is on the title. Field v. Field, September 9, 2020.
Does this apply in a community property state?
The Field case, though coming from a different state (and a non-community property state, at that) would probably be persuasive in Arizona. Note that the South Dakota Supreme Court decision doesn’t actually rely on the common law concept of marital property (their analogue for our community property rules). It focuses on how the transfer was made, and what the documents say.
So if Dennis, Matt and Aren had all lived and farmed in Arizona, the result would likely have been the same. Except, of course, that Matt and Aren would probably have taken title to the farm as “community property with right of survivorship.” But that’s a story for another day.
Read more here.
Wednesday, September 23, 2020
From Tax Foundation:
Fifteen states have a marriage penalty built into their bracket structure. Seven additional states (Arkansas, Delaware, Iowa, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, and West Virginia), as well as the District of Columbia, fail to double bracket widths, but offset the marriage penalty in their bracket structure by allowing married taxpayers to file separately on the same return to avoid losing credits and exemptions. Ten states have a graduated-rate income tax but double their brackets to avoid a marriage penalty: Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Hawaii, Idaho, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Nebraska, and Oregon.
Read more here.
Tuesday, September 22, 2020
A year and a half ago, one of the world’s best basketball players, Maya Moore, a four-time WNBA champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist, stepped away from the game. She was putting her career on pause to devote her time to the case of Jonathan Irons, a wrongfully convicted man who was more than two decades into a 50-year prison sentence on charges of breaking into a home and shooting the homeowner (the homeowner survived the shooting). No physical evidence had ever connected Irons to the crime. A judge ruled in March that the prosecution had suppressed fingerprint evidence that could have helped exonerate Irons.
This summer, Moore’s work, and that of many others, finally paid off. Irons was released from prison on July 1. On Wednesday, the 31-year-old Moore and 40-year-old Irons appeared on Good Morning America to make another announcement: They’re married.
Read more here.
Monday, September 21, 2020
I began to joke that it had taken a divorce to make my marriage equal. But like all good jokes, it’s only funny because it’s true.
In America, in heterosexual relationships, women do three times as much work as their male counterparts. It’s true that modern men are doing more than they once did, but their efforts do not come close to evening the scales. When they do chip in, they expect not just credit, but lavish praise. And though they have increased their share of household chores, they report doing more than they actually do.
In the pandemic, this split is shattering American mothers. Among heterosexual couples where both partners work, women are now doing 70% more childcare. With mothers and fathers at home—both of them ostensibly working, if they’re employed, watching children, and supervising online school—women are doing on average 15 hours more work than men.
What would it take to make a marriage finally equal? (Divorce isn’t an option for everyone! Like, for example, people who want to stay married.) I was never going to find equality through marriage therapy—which, naturally, I had to set up and send reminders for appointments for—or through constant negotiating over chores. It was never going to be achieved by nannies (which we couldn’t afford) or house cleaners (which we could, but barely).
But I found a way; I burnt it all down and started over again.
Read more here.
Sunday, September 20, 2020
From the Salt Lake Tribune:
Utah long has basked in its national reputation as a marriage-friendly state. New Census Bureau estimates reinforce that yet again, but in a new and perhaps unexpected way.
Utah ranks No. 3 in the nation for the proportion of same-sex couples who choose to marry: 69.6%. The only states ranking higher are North Dakota (72.5%) and Montana (71.8%).
“I’m not surprised by that,” said state Sen. Derek Kitchen, D-Salt Lake City, the only openly gay member of the Utah Legislature and a lead plaintiff in the Kitchen v. Herbert lawsuit that legalized gay marriage here seven years ago.
Although he was recently divorced himself, Kitchen said, “Utah has a deep culture of finding stability and support and committed relationships” — which extends to gay marriage here, too.
Utah is No. 1 in the country for opposite-sex marriage, with 92.7% of couples that live together being married. (Alabama is No. 2 at 91.2%, followed by Mississippi at 90.8%.)
Read more here.
Saturday, September 19, 2020
I've been reading and reviewing Sue Miller's novels ever since her debut, The Good Mother, became an instant bestseller in 1986. And for all those many years, I've been frustrated by Miller because her novels are so hard to do justice to in a review, especially on radio.
As you know, radio is about storytelling and Miller's stories, in summary, often tend to sound contrived, cheesy even. For instance, her latest novel, Monogamy, is about a couple living in Cambridge, Mass., who've been happily married nearly 30 years; the husband suddenly dies and the wife discovers he had been having an affair. Her known world is, thus, doubly shattered.
Melodramatic, right? Yet, in Miller hands, this piece of artifice becomes transformed into felt life. She's one of our most emotionally profound and nuanced writers.
Annie, the "wife," in Monogamy, is the first character we meet and, the one we readers are left with after her husband, Graham, dies in his sleep of a heart attack. In her 60s — a photographer who has had some successful exhibitions, but by her own admission, is no Diane Arbus — Annie is one of those reserved, easy-to-underestimate people with a strong core.
Read more here.
Friday, September 18, 2020
Five years after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages around the U.S., more than a half million households are made up of married same-sex couples, according to figures the U.S. Census Bureau released Thursday.
Since 2014, the year before the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages, the number of married same-sex households has increased by almost 70%, rising to 568,110 couples in 2019, according to the Census Bureau’s American Community Survey.
Of the 980,000 same-sex couple households reported in 2019, 58% were married couples and 42% were unmarried partners, the survey showed.
There were slightly more female couple households than male couple households.
“Opponents of marriage equality frequently argued that same-sex couples really weren’t all that interested in marriage. But the large increase in marriages among same-sex couples since marriage equality became legal nationwide offers evidence of the clear desire for marriage among same-sex couples,” said Gary Gates, a demographer specializing in LGBT issues.
The survey revealed noticeable economic differences between male couples and female couples, as well as same-sex couples and opposite-sex couples.
Read more here.
Thursday, September 17, 2020
From the Detroit News:
A tightly clenched marriage story, writer-director Sean Durkin’s “The Nest” takes place at the height of the mid-1980s, a year or two before Gordon Gekko and Oliver Stone made unscrupulous capitalism so damnably aspirational in “Wall Street.”
Durkin’s second feature is not primarily concerned with deregulated excess or financial matters, however. “The Nest” is more about the dangerous facades and thin ice of so many family relationships. The troubled air of Durkin’s previous feature, the eerily effective cult drama “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” has something in common with the air in this one.
When we first see Rory, played by Jude Law, he’s making a transatlantic phone call that will change his life. The steely look on his face just before dialing suggests a natural-born deception artist about to go into his dance.
Read more here.
From Vanity Fair ("One of the Best Films of the Year"):
When I first saw the new film The Nest (in theaters on September 18, available digitally November 17), it played as tragedy. All the way back at Sundance—a flickering memory from a distant, lost age—I regarded Sean Durkin’s stately, restrained work as a grim tale of economic ruin. Jude Law plays a scheming businessman, or perhaps conman, who moves his wife (Carrie Coon) and children (Oona Roche and Charlie Shotwell) back to his native England, with the plan to make a mint in the slowly modernizing London business sector. Things fall apart, the family fractures. I left the film chilled and anxious.
I watched it again this week, after months of so many real things falling apart, and the film played differently, to surprising effect. Its bleak mechanics were still there; Law’s Rory is still a shifty liar, Coon’s Allison still drowns in her own compromise, the kids Samantha and Benjamin still spin off into isolated neglect. But buried under all that—something unearthed by the end of Durkin’s exquisitely modulated film—is a weird, weary kind of hope. The family bottoms out, and will need to wrestle their way back up to the surface somehow. But still, they’re there, warts and resentments and all.
The Nest is a complex movie, despite its economical size. At initial glance, it is mostly just the story of a family moving, sort of for Dad’s job, and not finding what they like in their new environment. It’s not terribly far off from a great Simpsons episode about the same thing. But what Durkin does so smartly—as he did in his debut feature and most recent film, Martha Marcy May Marlene—is fill the picture with a creeping atmosphere that implies deeper, danker things beyond what we’re seeing in literal form.
Read more here.
Wednesday, September 16, 2020
Tuesday, September 15, 2020
From the Atlantic:
Yet nearly half of all married couples are likely to divorce, and many couples report feeling unhappy in their relationships. Instructors of Northwestern University’s Marriage 101 class want to change that. The goal of their course is to help students have more fulfilling love relationships during their lives. In Marriage 101, popular books such as Mating in Captivity and For Better: The Science of a Good Marriage are interspersed with meaty academic studies. Students attend one lecture a week and then meet in smaller breakout groups to discuss the weekly topics, which range from infidelity to addiction, childrearing to sexuality in long-term relationships.
At first glance, this class may seem a tad too frivolous for a major research university. But the instructors say it’s not an easy A and its reputation as a meaningful, relevant, and enlightening course has grown steadily over the 14 years it’s been offered. In fact, teachers are forced to turn away eager prospective students every year. This spring, the enrollment will be capped at 100. The class is kept to a manageable size so that students can grapple at a deeply personal level with the material during their discussion sessions.
The Marriage 101 professors believe college is the perfect time for students to learn about relationships. “Developmentally, this is what the college years are all about: Students are thinking about who they are as people, how they love, who they love, and who they want as a partner,” Alexandra Solomon, a professor and a family therapist, says. Solomon will be teaching the course along with a team of four other faculty, all affiliated with Northwestern’s Family Institute, and 11 teaching assistants. “We’re all really passionate about talking about what makes a healthy relationship.” The professors see the course—which requires journaling exercises, interviews with married couples, and several term papers—as a kind of inoculation against potential life trauma.
Historians tell us that marriage education in America began as a way to keep women’s sexuality in check. “Marriage education has been for hundreds of years aimed at women. It was considered their responsibility to keep the marriage going,” Stephanie Coontz, a co-chairwoman of the Council on Contemporary Families and the author of Marriage: A History, tells me. During the 1920s and 1930s, Coontz explains in her book, fears about sexual liberation and the future of marriage led eugenics proponents such as Paul Popenoe to become enthusiastic about marriage counseling. “If we were going to promote a sound population, we would not have to get the right kind of people married, but we would have to keep them married,” Popenoe wrote.
College-level marriage courses became even more popular during the post-World War II period, when marriage rates were at an all-time high and women were encouraged to embrace a new role as happy homemakers. Marriage education during that time, Coontz explains, was similarly driven by a strong emphasis on stereotypical gender, race, and class ideas about how a marriage should ideally be conducted. “The received wisdom of the day was that the only way to have a happy marriage was for the woman to give up any aspirations that might threaten the man’s sense of superiority, to make his interests hers, and to never ask for help around the house.” In one case, cited in Rebecca Davis’s book More Perfect Unions, a young wife became convinced, after a series of sessions at the Ohio State University’s marriage clinic, that her husband’s straying was a result of her failing to do her duty by taking care of her looks and keeping a proper home. And NYU’s College of Engineering presented “Good Wife Awards” to women who put their spouses first, providing the domestic support that allowed their husbands to concentrate on their studies.
Read more here.
Monday, September 14, 2020
From Erez Aloni (University of British Columbia Law), writing for Equality JOTWELL a review of Maxine Eichner, The Free-Market Family (2020):
In July 2020, newspapers reported a study that ranked the United States as the second-worst country—after Mexico—to raise a family out of 35 OECD countries. The US failed, in particular, in the categories of cost to raise a family, time parents have to spend with their children, and safety as related to raising a family. Sadly, for families who struggle with this issue, this report held nothing surprising. The Free-Market Family (2020), by Maxine Eichner, affirms the study and adds much more. The book details, in a comprehensive and nuanced manner, the failure of the US to support its families. Eichner argues that over the past five decades the US has gradually adopted an extreme version of “free-market family policy,” in which the government’s role in helping families to care for their children, especially in their early years, is minimal. Families are sacrificed to the market’s mercy, juggling work and caregiving, in what becomes a mission impossible for all but the ultra-rich. The result is devastating: the well-being of most US families—measured across such standards as happiness, academic achievement, mental health, time to spend with family, and economic mobility—is significantly worse in comparison to other similar countries.
The Free-Market Family is mandatory reading for anyone who wants to understand how laissez-faire public policies fail most US families. Diligently and elegantly, Eichner maps and analyzes the various policies that contribute to this failure. One of the book’s primary strengths lies in the richness of disciplines, resources, and methodologies she engages—from history to political economy, from major news stories to economic data, from interviews with 39 parents to comparative policies across various nations. Together, the book provides a thorough and rigorous account of the policies that the US has embraced, including their political origins and their harm, and offers suggestions about how to correct them. Eichner’s style is crisp and delightful, making even her meticulous detailing of policies and data accessible to a broad audience without compromising the critical nuances of these issues. The personal narratives make the story less abstract, and are often very touching.
Economic inequality is the major story that Eichner tells. Although free-market policies harm most families—even middle- and upper-middle-class—not surprisingly, those who are harmed the most are poor and working-class families. Many of these families’ problems stem from the economic insecurity they face and from the government’s hands-off policies. Due to unstable jobs, child benefits in a form of a tax credit (rather than guaranteeing minimum income), and welfare policies that aim mainly at putting parents to work (often even in the year that a child is born), low-income parents often struggle to put food on their family’s table or provide stable housing. In the first year after a child’s birth, a period that is enormously important to the child’s development and to the recovery of the birth mother, they often cannot afford even a short time of parental leave, let alone an entire year (and often need to pay a hospital bill). Yet, the federal law provides only three months of unpaid parental leave, and, thanks to exemptions, a large percentage of families do not qualify for even this benefit. The US is the only OECD country without a policy of paid parental leave.
At the same time, parents’ work hours can be highly unpredictable, they might need to work nights and/or take second and third jobs—all of which make the task of finding good childcare nearly impossible. Further, government failure to provide subsidized daycare, as well as reliable and supervised care centers, make their parenting task impossible: not only do they experience the stress of juggling all this (indeed, surviving), they cannot spend time with their children or provide quality parenting. In a system that strongly relies on parents to privately navigate raising children, these parents have less time and fewer resources to spend on their children than their more affluent counterparts. The result is that economic mobility for children from these families is significantly lower than in other countries (P. 9). Finally, prekindergarten programs—which play an important role in equalizing between children from wealthy and low-income families—are too expensive and typically inaccessible to most. Fewer than 40 percent of three-year-old in the US are enrolled in such programs, compared with 90 percent in such countries as France, the UK, Germany, and Israel (P. 113). This is just the tip of the iceberg of the account that the book provides of how “poor and low-income families bear the harshest burdens of free-market family policy” (P. 119).
The free-market family-policy approach that the US has adopted, Eichner persuasively contends, is so radical that policymakers frequently prioritize market operations that harm the family, instead of markets that work for improving the well-being of families. Conversely, in a “pro-family” approach—a version of which has been adopted by virtually all other wealthy democracies, and often by countries that are much less wealthy than the US— the market constrained by the government in order to help the people. These policies include: limiting work hours so parents can spend time with their families, publicly paid parental leave for up to a year (in the case of two parents, policy often includes incentives for the other parent to take some leave), strong safety-net programs, child benefits in the form of monthly income, and subsidized and supervised quality daycare—to name just a few.
Read more here.
Saturday, September 12, 2020
Naomi Cahn (UVA) & Linda C. McClain (BU) have recently posted their article Gendered Complications of Covid-19: Towards a Feminist Recovery Plan, Georgetown Journal of Gender and the Law (2020). Here is the abstract:
Gendered inequalities are on the frontlines of Covid-19. The catalogue of Covid-19’s impact covers all aspects of women’s lives: work, family, education, health, reproduction, mental and physical well-being, and leisure. The pandemic has exposed the limitations in the current economic system on public and private support for gender equity and the intersecting impact of gender, race, and class in that lack of support. Women of color, particularly Black, Latina, and Native American, are at the intersection of the inequities in the emerging stay-at-home economy. This Article argues that Covid-19 is likely to have complex implications for gender equality and gender equity as state and local governments, the federal government, and private actors focus on recovery plans. The negative impact includes hundreds of thousands of deaths, lingering health complications for many among the several million people who have already contracted the virus, massive economic disruption and loss for individuals, families, and communities and the exacerbation of structural inequalities. The creative policy responses prompted by the devastating impact of Covid-19 provide promise for building a more transformative and equitable future. Indeed, any roadmap to resilience is incomplete without addressing the gender inequities in our social infrastructure. Proposing a feminist recovery plan, this Article focuses on a set of issues relating to gender inequities concerning work and family, including the gender pay gap, the child care crisis, and the disproportionate role of women—particularly, women of color— in providing essential but undervalued care work.
Friday, September 11, 2020
From Psychology Today:
A Gallop Poll published August 25 (2020) revealed that 10% of American families with children of school age are intending to homeschool their children this year. That’s a huge increase, up from 5% just one year ago. The poll was very clear not to confound homeschooling with online learning at home controlled by a public or private school. The question included the statement, “By ‘homeschool’ we mean not enrolled in a formal school but taught at home.”
The poll may even underestimate the number who will eventually opt for homeschooling this year. Many families say they are taking a “wait and see” approach. They’ll see what happens when schools open this fall (many are opening later than usual) and then opt for homeschooling if they don’t like what they see. Jim Mason, Vice President of the Home School Legal Defense Association, said that “the phones are ringing off the hook” as record numbers of people are inquiring about homeschooling. Likewise, the National Home School Association reported receiving 3400 requests for information in a single day this summer, in contrast to the typical 5 to 20 inquiries per day prior to the pandemic.
Read more here.
Thursday, September 10, 2020
From Yahoo! Finance:
The global surrogacy market generated $112.80 million in 2015 and is projected to reach $201.40 million by 2025, growing at a CAGR of 6.1% from 2016 to 2025.
The global surrogacy market is segmented on the basis of type, technology, end user, and region. By type, it is divided into gestational surrogacy and traditional surrogacy. By technology, it is segmented into IVF with intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI), IVF without ICSI, and intrauterine insemination (IUI). Region wise, the market is analyzed across North America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and LAMEA.
The key players operating in the global surrogacy market include New Hope Fertility Center, IVI RMA Global, Clinic Scanfert, Bourn Hall Fertility Clinic, NOVA IVI Fertility, Houston Fertility Center, Ovation Fertility, Extraordinary Conceptions, Care Fertility Group, Growing Generations LLC.
Read more here.
Wednesday, September 9, 2020
The woman best known for popularizing gender reveal parties has a message for the world: Please stop.
Tuesday, September 8, 2020
Nevada will vote this November on whether to repeal a same-sex marriage ban from the state's constitution.
It's the first statewide vote on such a ban in the five years since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized the marriages nationwide.
Though the U.S. Supreme Court invalidated state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage, 30 states still have the bans in their constitutions.
Read more here.