October 15, 2001
Senator Charles Schumer, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, Representative James Walsh:
We hope you will take the time to carefully review this letter and especially the personal petitions which have been included as attachments. We are mothers and fathers asking you to please call for Congressional hearings into the need for a Family Rights Act. In the past year we have had the chance to meet with members of your staffs in Syracuse, but have seen little progress since then.
It seems we have a problem of “priority” and of “size”. Right now we appear to be such a small group and I’m sure you all have very busy staffs. Some would say that we need to do a better job of organizing and presenting the issues (and there is some truth there). This letter may cause you to reconsider the amount of initiative and leadership you may be able to show. As a group we are committed to the principle of NonViolent Action; that Faith, Love, and Sacrifice can make a difference. But we sure can use your help!
The issue is Civil Rights
We believe recognizing parents have a basic Human Right to participate in the lives of their children is obvious – but is the time right? I have had some small personal experience in the political process and Family Law was not even an issue for me, until I was visited by an awful divorce proceeding. I am asking each of you to take the time to listen and see what is really happening – and to also draw analogy to the past, as you consider the many Members of Congress who have proceeded you in this Nation’s history.
Have you ever wondered what those members were thinking of TWENTY years before:
- Slavery was ended.
- Women were granted the right to vote.
- Segregation was ended.
What would the response have been by you and your staff to:
- A slave coming to your office and asking you to protect their right to be free?
- A women coming to your office and asking for the simple right to vote?
- A black coming to your office and asking to sit in the front of the bus?
Would you have told them to go back, get better organized (and maybe – you have to wait, we are in the middle of a war or other crisis?). We all like to be “proactive.” You are very talented and I’m sure ambitious people. Would you have taken the risk and lead on the issue before the rest of the Nation was ready to follow? The “Freedom Riders” sat in the front of the bus and were hauled off to jail. Do we have to make that same Sacrifice for the Love of our children also?
We are parents asking you to recognize the God given right we have to be with our children, for protection from well intentioned government interference. Will you help us?
We have attached some letters and photographs of parents and children who have had their most basic Civil Right violated:
- � Ms. Yvonne Cook – had to battle just to keep an equal relationship with the children with a spouse who kept returning to Court seeking sole custody because he thought “it would be better for the children.”
- � Mr. Richard Eichinger – shared two years of equal parenting (a week with each parent), which was ended after financial negotiations failed leading to a finding of “failure to communicate.” He is now an every other weekend parent.
- � Dr. Malcolm Hatfield (MD) – after an allegation of abuse to his young daughter, the Judge made the “safe decision” and reduced him to infrequent and supervised visits. Isn’t being separated from a loving parent abuse? He is a good parent to his new spouse’s young daughter. He appears to have been found a threat only to his own flesh & blood.
- � Mr. Arthur Ignatiadis – also had to battle to keep involved in his daughters life.
- � Ms. Kym Goodman – who continues to pursue access to her child and has been sanctioned by the local D.A. to stop. But still a good parent to her other child?
- � Mr. John Murtari – wanted an equal relationship and was willing to communicate. His spouse wanted sole custody and refused to cooperate in any way. Finding of failure to communicate. Now a visitor in his son’s life.
These are just a sampling, our web site contains tragic stories from almost every state, it is our Hall of Shame (http://www.AKidsRight.Org/shame.htm).
Protection of Family Rights
We also include a DRAFT Family Rights Act. It is an attempt to restore balance in Family Law nationwide. Each state had the ability to establish its own criminal code and procedures, but was still required to remain within the U.S. Constitutions guarantees of: a presumption of innocence, real proof, and the protection of a Jury. In the last 40 years there has been an explosion in the well intentioned Family Law produced in each state, but without the firm guidance of our Constitution. The words “best interest of the child” have been used to justify any state action.
We only ask the same principles used to protect liberty, also protect the bond between parents and children (probably an even more valued freedom) – the presumption of equal parenting, real proof, and the protection of a Jury.
Being an NCP
Almost all of these people are NCPs (Non Custodial Parents). An official term which we hope will soon join the other “N” word from segregation. What an oxymoron? As an NCP our child can be involved in a serious accident, linger in the hospital, die, and be buried – and there is no legal requirement we even be notified. Why even use the word “Parent?”
Why do some of us risk jail and why are we asking for your help? Which is worse, not knowing your child is seriously ill or just being asked to ride in the “back of the bus.” In similar words used by Abraham Lincoln to describe the institution of Slavery, “Many people like the concept of the NCP, but I have yet to find a parent who wanted to be one.”
We ask each of you to please take the time to give us a response to this letter that we can share with our membership.
Ms. Yvonne Cook, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mr. Richard Eichinger, email@example.com
Mr. John Murtari, jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org