by Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller (Marlowe & Co.)

Dorian Solot and Marshall Miller started the Alternative to Marriage Project, a national non-profit, in 1998 after facing discrimination as an unmarried couple trying to rent an apartment. Recently, they brought the ideas behind the organization together by publishing the book, Unmarried to Each Other: The Essential Guide to Living Together as an Unmarried Couple. The book is a useful resource guide with lots of information about important rights that unmarried domestic partners might not realize apply to them. It also becomes weighted down at times with personal stories, and suggestions that border on common sense.

Among the most useful pieces of information in Unmarried is the rights contained in a Health Care Proxy. According to Solot and Miller, "Having a health care proxy gives the designated person (your partner or someone else you choose) the authority to make health care decisions if you are too severely ill or injured to do so... Most hospitals and doctors' offices should have the forms available and how it can work for you." Also concerning health care, they tell you where you can find a list of the 4,400 employers offering domestic partner health benefits.

While a list of employers is helpful to any unmarried couple, Solot and Miller's suggestions on how to persuade your employer to offer these benefits if they don't already may not be as useful to everyone. Their suggestions to come with "solid facts" and "personal stories" might be obvious for some people.

Solot and Miller have done a significant amount of research for this book, and spent a great deal of time on its organization. They provide some fun statistics to throw around, such as Portland is ranked the number one city with the highest percentage of unmarried partner households among all households; or that one in three children in the U.S. are born to unmarried parents. Whether these facts comfort or horrify you, they're fun to whip out at parties. M. WILLIAM HELFRICH