(Photo: Logo of the National Association of Single People)
Today marks the beginning of National Unmarried and Single Americans Week. It is a holiday (of sorts) that celebrates being single and not necessarily being in a hurry to mingle. It may seem like an odd comparison but choosing not to be in a committed relationship (whether it is of the homosexual, heterosexual, or other variety) garners some of the same responses with the same tenor as conversations regarding the moral and legal validity of gay marriage. I've lost count of the number of times someone has asked me why I don't have a girlfriend, why I'm not actively pursuing a committed relationship or marriage and, my personal favorite, when am I going to come out of the closet because I don't have and am not actively pursuing a girlfriend. Having a significant other is a status symbol that says something about the viewed to the viewer (whether it's valid or not). Like it or not, it is just not popular in our society to be past a certain age and not shacked up with someone for reasons that do not involve being a divorcee, widower, or eunuch.
The forums and events taking place this week will celebrate the lowest common denominator --the individual-- in all her/his glory. Enjoying life as a single or unmarried person is much more than navigating the dating scene. While some people are looking for romantic love, many others have no immediate or future desire to couple up. Some people are focusing all of their energy on building carrers. Others are in no hurry to replace the relative freedom of single life for the yoke of commitment. Still others identify as being asexual and have no sexual desire for the same or opposite sex. An unintended consequence of choosing to live a single lifestyle is that single individuals shoulder more of the tax burden because they are not eligible for many of the tax breaks and incentives that married couples receive. For example, a single first-time home buyer will pay more in interest during the life of their mortgage than a married couple. Additionally, single people can expect to pay more on average for such essentials as healthcare, life insurance, and car insurance.
Being single shouldn't be viewed as being juxtaposed to or an indictment of the institution of marriage. It is a lifestyle choice that we should embrace and support so long as it doesn't adversely affect the lives of non-single people. Celebrating the rights of single people to remain uncommitted and unmarried is as essential to the sustenance of our individual rights and liberties as upholding the right for our gay brothers and sisters to demonstrate their eternal love and devotion to their partners via the bonds of marriage. When we view both lifestyle choices through this lense, we will have made a giant leap forward towards allowing every law abiding citizen to pursue Life, Liberty, and Happiness on their own terms.