SB 1482 Hearing Postponed in Face of Massive Opposition
In the face of over 3,500 calls, letters and faxes opposing SB 1482, the hearing on the bill has been postponed from today to Tuesday, May 9. Thanks to all of your for your participation.
The stated reason for the postponement is that the committee is working on fiscal matters right now, and SB 1482 isn't fiscal. It is possible that this is what happened. However, as I noted in last week's action alert, the bill's backers made a sweeping, last minute amendment to the bill in order to slip it through before opponents had a chance to organize. Now that there is great opposition, it is also possible that the bill's author realizes that this won't be easy and is delaying in order to marshal her forces. It is also possible that she is backing away from the bill, or is going to amend it to make it less objectionable. We will keep you informed. To donate to help our campaign, click here.
As I noted in my action alert NEW CAMPAIGN: Move-Away Bill Will Harm Children of Divorce (April 18, 2006):
"Under SB 1482...a parent seeking to block a move is specifically prohibited from citing most of the evidence that could provide a basis for restraining the move. Nonmoving parents are prevented from citing the move's impact on their children's relationships with them or the effects of the children losing their schools and friends. This directly abrogates current California case law which says that the children's relationship with their nonmoving parent must be considered when deciding a relocation case.
"SB 1482 is an attempt by the extremist Coalition for Family Equity and misguided feminists to reverse the progress made on behalf of California's children of divorce over the past two years. From 1996 to 2004 move-away determinations were based on the Burgess decision, which was interpreted by California courts as conferring unlimited move-away privileges. Under Burgess the bonds between tens of thousands of children and their noncustodial parents were needlessly ruptured.
"The California Supreme Court addressed the problem in the LaMusga decision in April, 2004 by making it clear that courts can prevent children from being moved when it is detrimental to their interests. Among the factors deemed important were the relationship between the child and the nonmoving parent.
"In the summer of 2004ornia, introduced SBh would have granted custodial parents an almost unlimited right to move children far way from their noncustodial parents.
"We organized opposition to SB 730, and thousands of you wrote and called Sacramento to oppose the bill. Our campaign gained widespread media attention and was endorsed by numerous mental health and family law professionals. Burton surprised Sacramento insiders by withdrawing the bill a few weeks later...
"California family law has a huge influence on other states, and parents all over the United States have a large stake in what happens here. I hear every day from devastated parents who lost their children in the aftermath of the misguided Burgess decision. I often hear from parents whose relationships with their children were saved by the LaMusga decision.
"The Alliance for Children Concerned About Move-Aways, which we originally formed to defeat SB 730, is working with the California Alliance for Families and Children to defeat SB 1482."
Glenn Discusses SB 1482 on Generation Conexion
I discussed SB 1482, the new California bill which will make it easier for custodial parents to move children away from noncustodial parents, on Generation Conexion on Wednesday, April 26 at 6 PM on the Spanish language station KHPY AM 1670 in Riverside.
New York Shared Parenting Bill Held
In a disappointing though not surprising vote, the New York Assembly Committee on Children & Families voted today to hold over A330, the New York Shared Parenting Bill. Four committee members voted in favor of the bill (see below), and the rest voted to hold, citing concerns about alleged technical issues or flaws in the bill.
This bill has been locked up in committee for 12 years. Jim Hays, president of Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, who sponsored the bill, told me that with the four "yes" votes and all the media attention, this is the closest they've ever come to getting it out of committee. He has asked me to tell you that it was the 8,000 calls, letters and faxes you generated which helped bring it this close, and to thank you.
These events show just how entrenched the interests we oppose are. After we launched the campaign in support of A330, the National Organization for Women and Stop Family Violence counterattacked, both launching action alerts and campaigns against the bill. Yet our numbers dwarfed theirs.
It's very hard to get publicity for bills that have not yet passed out of committee, yet a pitched battle over this bill was fought in the pages of the Albany Times Union, the liberal, pro-feminist newspaper in New York's capital. This included: a mismatched debate over the bill on the op-ed page (see Family law proposes to keep bonds strong by Mike McCormick and I and Joint custody bill not in child's interest by NOW's Marcia Pappas, 3/28/06); a surprising endorsement of shared parenting by the Times Union in their editorial Custody challenges: It's time New York embraced the concept of shared parenting (4/11/06); two news articles; and a score of letters to the editor, including one from Pappas whining that the Times Union had dared to stop following the NOW party line on this issue.
The Times Union was fair and allowed both sides to be heard, which is all I ever ask a newspaper to do. The battle quickly became very lopsided, with the feminists reduced to babbling "domestic violence, domestic violence" over and over again in trying to scare legislators away from voting for A330.
The Assemblymemebers voting in favor of the bill were Ruben Diaz Jr., Karim Camara, Michael Benjamin and Vincent Ignizio. I suggest you send them an email thanking them for their support by clicking here.
Hays says the Coalition of Fathers and Families New York will bring the bill back next year.
'Convicted Felons Had More Rights than My Dad' Says Woman Who Supports A330
A woman who joined our campaign in support of A330, the New York Shared Parenting Bill, wrote the following letter to the New York Assembly Committee on Children & Families:
"I'm the mother of 3 boys as well as stepmother to 3 more children. When I was 9, my parents divorced. The man I so admired, my dad, was treated so low class that he was unable to have any say at all about his children. Convicted felons had more rights and control over their lives than my dad was afforded when it came to his children.
"My dad was a very active parent before the divorce. So active, that I completely credit him for giving me the tools I needed to make me a good person and the tools to raise my own children. I actively saw my mother literally play act the victim. I guess she thought we wouldn't remember what she did to actively hurt him any way that she could.
"And she could, thanks to the state and their lack of a system that would at least allow my dad to have say over the children he helped bring into the world. When I separated from my 1st husband, we agreed, without court involvement, how to finish raising our children...We also forced ourselves to maintain an open door policy. If my sons wanted to be with their father...they called him and vice versa...
"Growing up with divorced parents back in the 70's meant that you usually befriended others that were in the same situation. I think I had only two friends out of all of my friends in Saratoga that actually still saw their dads. As for the reason why, all you had to do was see how the mothers made it nearly impossible for the children to see their dads without emotional trauma, scenes, etc...
"It was ugly then and it is ugly now...no one parent should have so much control. If shared parenting can give both the say they deserve, our next generations will be much healthier."
A Myth About Dads as Primary Caregivers
I heard part of a radio interview with anti-feminist writer Caitlin Flanagan this morning while driving my kids to school. The host asked Flanagan about stay at home dads or dads as primary caregivers. Flanagan was positive and supportive of this, but put it in terms of "when mom earns more, this makes sense," or "if mom's job is more important or demanding, it's good that dads pick up the slack" (not exact quotes).
The host agreed with Flanagan. What Flanagan says is true, but both Flanagan and the radio host missed the most important aspect of dads as primary caregivers--sometimes they're the parent who's better at it. In other cases, they may not be better at it, but they might be happier or more suited to it. Or they may appreciate the experience more than the mother does, because the dad never expected to have the opportunity.
As the primary caregiver for my kids for the past eight years, I find it mildly annoying that it is so often couched in terms of being an economic mediocrity. I'm the primary caregiver because that's what's best for my family.
I've discussed the issue of stay at home dads in several columns, including Father Care: The Other Child Care Option (W. New York Family Magazine, 6/01).
In Defense of R. Mark Rogers
According to the article Economist wants back in bidding: Child-support study in limbo since January (Concord Monitor, 4/23/06):
"A Georgia economist once jailed for failure to pay child support said he's 'absolutely' still interested in getting the contract to advise New Hampshire officials on child-support guidelines. He also wants to clear his name.
"The state's child-support system is based on a percentage of parental income, but lawmakers want to rewrite the guidelines to base them on the cost of raising a child. They passed a bill last year approving the money to hire an economist to determine that cost, and Health and Human Services Commissioner John Stephen recommended R. Mark Rogers for the $200,000 contract.
"Gov. John Lynch thought the bid-evaluation process might have been unfairly weighted to Rogers over Policy Studies Inc., the Colorado firm that also bid on the contract. After he learned about Rogers's legal history from the media in January, Lynch stopped the contract from being placed on the Executive Council agenda and asked Attorney General Kelly Ayotte to investigate.
"Ayotte, who returned her report earlier this month, said the process 'undermined public confidence' and that the bidding should be reopened. Lynch agreed with the recommendation and...also made it clear he does not want Stephen to recommend Rogers again: 'I don't think he should even be allowed to bid on it,' Lynch said.
"Rogers told the Monitor last week that he hopes to still be considered for the contract...
"Rogers said his economics background speaks for itself, with a 'very strong ethic of objectivity,' and should be the only thing considered. He spent 19 years with the Federal Reserve, authored an economics handbook published by McGraw-Hill and served on the Georgia Commission on Child Support. He also partnered with a UNH professor in making his proposal to the state.
"On the other hand, Rogers advocates for reducing guidelines and has served as an expert witness for noncustodial parents who wish to pay less in child support. A divorced father, he was jailed for two weeks in the mid-1990s after failing to pay more than $7,000 in child support. He said he suffered a financial downturn, filed for bankruptcy and set up a back-payment system to his ex-wife through bankruptcy court.
"A superior court judge thought the move was a ploy and found him in contempt. Rogers waited in county jail until his mother cashed in her retirement fund to bail him out, he said."
A few comments:
1) I don't know whether Rogers is telling the truth about his jailing for non-payment of child support in the mid-90's, but it certainly sounds credible. I hear from fathers all the time who have jailed or punished by judges for failing to pay sums they could not pay. It is very common for men to suffer financial downturns and then be treated as if it's just some kind of scam to get out of child support.
2) Rogers was never tried and convicted--the basis for him being a so-called "deadbeat dad" rests on the opinion of one judge. The judge may have been right, but it's not the same as being a convicted criminal.
3) Even if Rogers were a convicted criminal, and even if he really were guilty, he probably still would not have been stripped of the child support contract. There is such a thing as paying one's debts to society and moving on.
Rogers appeared on His Side with Glenn Sacks to debate Debbie Kline, Executive Director of the Association for Children for the Enforcement of Support, a nationwide organization which advocates higher child support levels and tougher child support enforcement. According to Rogers, "Child support guidelines currently in use by the U.S. states typically generate awards that are three to four times what they should be if based on economically sound cost tables and on a true equal duty of support standard for both parents."
To listen to the show, go to Are Child Support Levels Too High? (12/12/04).
Rogers made some good points but I didn't feel he proved his case that the awards are "three to four times what they should be." Of course I could have easily stacked the debate against Debbie so Rogers would have won, but I don't do that. Despite the flaws in Debbie's arguments, I think listening to that show gives one a good idea of why fathers get beat in child support debates in state legislatures.
Legal Help for Fathers
If you live in Los Angeles, Riverside or Orange counties and you're facing a divorce, separation, or a child custody issue, the law firm of Oddenino & Gaule can help.
Congressional Candidate Takes Strong Stand for Noncustodial Parents' Rights
In 2004 Libertarian presidential candidate Michael Badnarik had a strong noncustodial parents' rights platform. Badnarik is clearly aware of and sensitive to the basic problems fathers today face, particularly the sole custody norm and the denigration of noncustodial parents to "second class parent" status. Badnarik is running for Congress in 2006--to learn more, go to http://www.badnarik.org.
College Campuses Are Hostile Environments for Young Men
I've written many times about the anti-male hostility prevalent on our college campuses. In my column Why Males Don't Go to College (She Thinks, 11/13/02); I noted:
"...rampant anti-male feminism has made college campuses a place where many males feel unwanted and unwelcome. To use a feminist term, our universities have become 'hostile environments' for young men. To illustrate, let's look at one campus--the University of California at Los Angeles, 1999-2001.
"Sensationalized lies about men--what dissident feminist Christina Hoff Sommers and others call 'Hate Statistics'--were an integral part of the campus culture. The Women's Resource Center (later renamed the Center for Women and Men), the Clothesline Project and others publicized discredited academic frauds like 'one in four college women has been the victim of rape or attempted rape' and 'domestic violence is the leading cause of injury to women aged 15 to 44.'
"Worse, such statistics were repeated ad infinitum and ad nauseam by the campus newspaper, the Daily Bruin, and also by both professors and students. The message behind the lies was clear--men are so powerful and despicable, and women are so helpless and victimized, that men had better not dare to complain about anything.
"This hostile attitude towards males is manifest in the classroom as well..."
One of my readers sent me a nice example of this last week. The reader wrote the University of Utah about their policy of having a women's week but not a men's week. In response, Leo Leckie, Executive Assistant to the Associate Vice President for Diversity of the University of Utah, wrote:
"'Men's Week' is celebrated on this campus, in this city, this state, in this country and in the world 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 365 days a year. The names on a vast majority of the buildings and named rooms and halls on our campus is but one of many examples that attest to the celebration of men. And there are indeed many, many offices and organizations on this campus that celebrate men daily.
"Because of the historical and continued marginalization of women and people of color on our campus, in our state, and in our country, our office specifically continues the essential work of representing these marginalized groups. The Women's Week Celebration is precisely that, a celebration of women, and invites everyone to join in that celebration.
"On a personal note, I am a white straight male, and as such I remind myself that I walk in the most privileged and empowered of spaces in this country. I remind myself that I have benefited from the country's oldest affirmative action program, and that my privilege is reinforced systemically every day. The challenge for me, as someone who occupies the highest rung on the ladder of power and privilege, is to remind myself that events that attempt to create awareness around issues of equity are about precisely that: equity."
Of course I dispute Leckie's conviction that men are the privileged gender in the United States--men have some advantages, but they also have disadvantages, too. One of the things which annoys me about Leckie's letter is the way he equates the experiences and social positions of blacks and Latinos with those of middle class white women. Blacks and Latinos are disadvantaged groups, white middle class women are not. To write to Leckie, click here
(A note about posting email addresses on my enewsletter. On numerous occasions people I've criticized on this enewsletter have been flooded with angry letters from my readers. However, I have never invaded a person's privacy. My policy is simple--if the email address is already available on the internet, I post it. If it is not, I assume it to be a private email address and I don't post it. Leckie's email firstname.lastname@example.org posted on 138 internet web pages, so it's a public email address.)
Leckie's "men have everything/women have nothing so who cares what issues men face" position reminds me a lot of Michael Moore. In my column Michael Moore, You Used to Be My Hero (Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star, 2/8/04 I noted:
"Michael, you have betrayed those whose cause you once championed. Once the voice of the unappreciated working man, I have watched in amazement and dismay as you have degenerated into one of the all too common scourges of our society--the low rent man-basher who pours derision upon the last remaining politically correct target of bigotry: men."
We've discussed the issue of (alleged) male privilege on His Side with Glenn Sacks many times--some examples are: NOMAS Leader Michael Kimmel Criticizes Men's Movement (6/6/05); Are American Women Oppressed? (11/28/04); and Is the Men's Movement Misogynistic? (1/23/05).
To learn more about how Woman's Studies have turned our universities into hostile environments for our young men, see my columns: Hate My Father? No Ma'am! (World Net Daily, 4/8/02); New Study Finds Myths, Misrepresentations in Women's Studies Textbooks (Cybercast News Service, 4/1/02); The Best Valentine's Day Gift for College Students: Gender Reconciliation (She Thinks, 2/13/03); and the His Side shows Poisoning Valentine's Day (2/1/04) and Former Women's Studies Professor Daphne Patai Slams Academic Feminism (7/6/03).
File Taxes Online with Professional Help
MENstax.com allows you to file your taxes, check your refund status, and have your return reviewed by an experienced tax professional--all online.
Looking for a Home in the Bay Area?
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Friend to Fathers and Children Passes Away
I was recently informed by Dayle Kichula that Louise Malenfant, a friend to fathers and children of divorce, died earlier this month. I asked Dayle to write a eulogy for my readers, and this is what she wrote:
"Louise Malenfant passed away peacefully in her home in Calgary, Alberta on April 2, 2006. She was laid to rest in a quiet ceremony by family members and a few of her many friends on April 5, 2006.
"Louise was the founder of Parents Helping Parents, a family advocacy program launched to assist parents falsely accused of abuse during divorce proceedings. She worked tirelessly to bring about change in the child welfare system in Manitoba and a few years ago moved to Alberta in hope of bringing about change to the bureaucracy here as she was successful doing in Manitoba.
"She helped countless parents, the majority of which were fathers, to regain access to their children as well as to regain their reputations, both lost due to false allegations of abuse. Louise's dream was to initiate change in the system whereby it would be more difficult for spouses to lie about abuse in order to sever access by the other parent to their children. She crusaded for full and fair investigations by child welfare authorities as well as by law enforcement authorities.
"Louise led and was the sole operator in the PHP organization. Losing her will be felt by many. It is this writer's hope that there will be someone to carry on and realize Louise's dream.
"Louise was often told that she was 'An Angel on Earth,' to which she would give a modest giggle and say 'If I don't do this, who will?' She provided a lifeline to all of her clients, at a time when all hope was lost. She would take control of the situation and in no time at all her clients would begin to see some light at the end of the tunnel.
To our Angel on Earth
Louise Marie Malenfant
You have earned your heavenly wings now. You will be missed.
God love your heart and rest your soul."
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