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Progress on Congressional Hearings / Mother's Day 2000

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Date: Fri Mar 31 2000 - 11:17:59 EST

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Good People,

This message contains info on the following:
1. Progress on Congressional Hearings (a bit long).
2. Mother's Day 2000 preparation.
3. Federal Building "walk".

1. Progress on Congressional Hearings.
It does appear National Family Law Reform is a "sensitive" topic
for members of the House of Representatives. Congressman James
Walsh (Syracuse, NY) has so far refused to take any type of
position. We recently sent him a letter asking him to consider
the following, the full text (and his reply) is at:

Congressman Walsh, 20 March 2000

Perhaps I and the others who have written you have not been clear
in our goals. Reform is such a sensitive topic, it is so easy to
have misunderstanding. To clarify our goals:

   To hear your answer to the question, "Isn't one of my most
   basic Human Rights the freedom to associate with my children?"

   Shouldn't I be presumed to be a fit parent deserving of an
   equal relationship? If the `system' challenges my right -
   shouldn't I have the protection of a Jury?

   Should my right to be with my child be any different in New
   York than in California?

   To encourage you to call for Congressional Hearings into the
   necessity of National Family Law Reform.

I'm sorry there aren't thousands of us writing letters to you -
then your decision might be easier. But so many parents just don't
know what to do. The "system" is so BIG and so entrenched, the
realm of Lawyers and Judges. It cost so MUCH money to
fight. What's a mother or father to do? Many of us have forgotten
the simple lesson of "How a Bill comes a Law." We have forgotten
that our Founding Fathers setup the Congress to give "power to the
people" - and especially within the House of Representatives,
whose members all come up for election every two years, including
this year.

Divorce is a difficult experience, it is almost a natural reaction
to "demonize" the other spouse (after all, its not MY fault we
couldn't make this work). Naturally, when it comes to the
children, can we really expect a natural enthusiasm for equal
custody (why of course I think my former spouse is a good person
and has a lot to offer my children as a parent -- heck, if I
REALLY thought that we'd still be married!) The present "system"
appears to only encourage such tendencies.

Much is made of our call for "jury protection." One can almost
imagine the arguments made to the Founding Fathers regarding the
"danger" of civil juries (why do you want to let the crooks get
off with stealing, the Courts are busy as it is, how can we be
expected to have that kind of proof...). But don't we have a
"right" to be presumed innocent? Yes, such legislation would bring
about large changes in the system and how our Nation thinks about
marriage and children. We like to think they will all be good
changes, based on a sound foundation.


Mary Chancellor (Tenessee),, Public
Relations for Kids-Right.Org, called his local office to ask for
clarification of his position, the following is an excerpt of her
report (full text at above). She spoke with Art, a legislative
assistant from his Washington, D.C. office.

I stated that we did indeed receive a letter from Congressman
Walsh, and directed his attention to the statement "
legislation on this subject will be brought before Congress this
year." At that point I told Art "we want to make that happen and
we want to know how to make that happen." His response was that we
are going to have a very difficult time and the reason why is
because the judiciary committee has been unwilling to address this
issue because they feel very strongly that this is not a federal

At this time the Family Courts have been under local jurisdiction
and that there is no mechanism at the Federal level to address the
problem. If you were able to pass a law at the Federal level,
then you would have to have in place the "system" to enforce the
law. He does agree that people vary opinions vary on this.
However, at the time there is no legislation to address the

With this I did ask that he tell me on a personal level what he
thinks we should do. He suggested one of two things, 1) find
someone on the judiciary committee that will become interested in
the subject and be willing to sit down with our organization and
figure if there is some way to make legislation work. or 2) go
under our State Legislative bodies and figure out a way to make it
work through the states. He suggested that some states work
together through their Attorney General office and that may be one
approach. Sometimes you can work it much better State by State
than trying at the National level.

There was some additional discussion about how to get things
started, but following is the most important information I need to
share with you. Mary, "Do you know if there is anyone at your
local office that is willing to just sit down and talk with John,
you know right now he feel as if no one in that office really
cares because no one has bothered to stop and talk to him, they
have not bothered to say, "just what is going on here", and for
that reason he feels there is no support there?

Art, "I find it hard to believe that people would not speak with
him, I don't know much about his situation, however I do know (and
we didn't have anything to do with it) a local Judge there at the
request of the District Attorney's office put a hold on it that he
could not come into our office. I was told by the staff in the
local office today that they are going back to court in April and
that the District Attorney's office requested that we not make any
further comment on this case to them until they came out of court.
Hopefully, at the next court hearing things would get straightened
away". The local staff was asked by the District Attorney's
office not to speak to you or make any comments until the court
hearing. It is the hope on everyone's part that this thing will
get resolved and if it does everything will be taken care of."

When things are cleared up at this court session then the door
will be open for you to go in and talk to one of the staff
members!!!! per Art. It really sounds as if people know who you
[John] are and Art made me feel as if they really do want to talk.

For those of you who have "lobbied" at the State Level, there
always appears to be some "committtee" that holds up progress. Our
plan is to acknowledge this, but also to simply ask OUR
CONGRESSMAN to make a public statement calling for Hearings into
Reform (this is one way Congress can investigate something of
public interest). We aren't forcing him to vote our way, or to
sponsor the Family Rights Act, but to at least say we should take
a closer look. This is a NATIONAL issue.

2. Mother's Day 2000 preparation
Our goals are to help bring Mothers and Fathers together in some
local community efforts calling for National Family Law Reform.
Begin thinking of what you can do in your area. Check our support
page for members in your area you can contact by E-mail, check

The date for activity is the Friday before Mother's day, May, 12th.
A simple plan would be to have a small rally in the same town as the
local offices of your Congressional Representative. Then to have a
collection of parents march/walk to their offices, introduce
yourselves to the local staff, and ask them to support reform.
The first step being "Congressional Hearings" ...

Remember, there don't have to be dozens of you to have an impact,
even 2-3 will be fine! That will be 2-3 MORE than have ever
stopped by their office ever asking for National Family Law

The web site, will serve as a focal
point for coordination. If you are planning something in your
area, or would like to get involved. We will post the info there
so that it is available to others.

We are planning a similar action later in the year for
Father's Day.

For more information, to get involved send email to:

3. Federal Building Walk
John Murtari is still down at the Syracuse Federal Building
just about every day -- its been a bit quiet lately, if
you have time pay him a visit he would welcome the chance to
talk and hear your thoughs.

For details and schedule see:

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