Fathers' rights movement in the USA

Fathers' rights activists work on providing education, support and advocacy with issues of custody, access, child support, domestic violence and child abuse, maintenance, and family court issues. Members of the fathers' rights movement protest what they see as evidence of gender bias against fathers and abuse of government authority in the branches and departments of the various state governments, including the family courts.

Federal and state laws

Two US Supreme Court have explicitly stated,Citation
title=see Barry v. Mercein, 46 US 103 (1847) and In re Burrus, 136 US 586 (1890)
] in complete agreement with a federal court decision,Citation
title=see In re Barry, 42 F. 113 (1844)
] custody of children cannot be decided in a court of equity and must be decided under Common Law jurisdiction.

However, states have removed decisions of divorce, child custody and child support from Common Law courts, which provided for punishments of Common Law breaches of duty, and assigned them to courts of equity.

Because the amount of federal funding to states increases based on the amount of child support collected by the state, members of the fathers' rights movement point out that federal law (Title IV-D of the Social Security Act) provides financial incentives to the states for collecting child support, thereby discouraging the enactment of laws creating a rebuttable presumption for shared parenting.cite web
last =Rogers
first =R. Mark
authorlink =
title =ACFC presentation
publisher =American Coalition of Fathers and Children
date =
url =http://www.acfc.org/media/video/2006nflrc/csr/csr-rogers.wmv
format =video
accessdate =2007-03-18
] A member of the fathers' rights movement contends that the best interest of the child standard as currently applied by family courts, violates the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution.cite web
last =Newdow
first =Michael
title =Family Feud
publisher =Slate.Com
date =2004-06-18
url =http://www.slate.com/id/2102650/
accessdate = 2007-04-30
] A member of the fathers' rights movement has stated that a reliance on the judiciary in the United States as the branch of government empowered to protect individual Constitutional rights and liberties, and the failure of courts to protect fathers' rights, has left fathers in the United States without the benefit of the checks and balances which have evolved in socialist countries with more open, pluralistic governments such as Sweden.cite web
last =Gay
first =Roger F.
title =Sweden Backs Off U.S.-Style Child Support Reforms Government Investigation Reveals Fundamental Flaws
publisher =FatherMag.Com
date =2003-05-06
url =http://www.fathermag.com/cgi-bin/scrape.cgi?http://www.geocities.com/rogerfgay/FatherMag/Sweden_v_US1.htm
accessdate = 2007-05-20
]
At the state level, a member of the fathers' rights movement contended that a Massachusetts law, which required non-custodial parents to first go to court and obtain certification that they are not batterers before obtaining report cards and other school records concerning their children, did not comply with federal requirements. [cite web
last =Wen
first =Patricia
title =State to seek repeal of access law for noncustodial parents
publisher =Boston.Com
comment =Henry Fassler is/was a member of Father & Families
comment documentation=http://www.fathers.ca/court_watch2.htm
date =2005-05-22
url =http://www.boston.com/news/local/massachusetts/articles/2005/05/22/state_to_seek_repeal_of_access_law_for_noncustodial_parents/
accessdate = 2007-04-26
] Members of the fathers' rights movement have campaigned to change Wisconsin law, which allowed custodial parents to move up to 150 miles away from their prior residence without informing the noncustodial parent, to create a rebuttable presumption that moves of greater than 20 miles are not in the best interest of the children.cite web
title =AB 400 Will Help Wisconsin's Children of Divorce
coauthers =Jeffery Leving and Glenn Sacks
publisher =Glenn Sacks
date =2005-06-17
url =http://www.glennsacks.com/ab_400_will.htm
accessdate = 2007-05-12
] Members of the fathers' rights movement protest the Massachusetts Supreme Court's interpretation of a Massachusetts law, which states that minor children who "live with" a parent cannot be compelled to testify against their parent, in which the Massachusetts Supreme Court decided that children do not "live with" their noncustodial parent.cite web
title =Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Votes to Fracture Families
publisher =Fathers & Families
date =2004-12-15
url =http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/site/news.php?id=40
accessdate = 2007-05-26
]

Protests, Rallies, and Symposia

Lansing to Washington DC Bike Trek For Equal Parenting

In August 2007, Robert Pedersen and Rob MacKenzie made a Capitol to Capitol Bike Trek for Equal Parenting. This was the third annual trip for Rob MacKenzie. [http://www.fightfoc.com/serendipity/archives/354-Lansing-to-Washington-D.C.-Bike-Trek-For-Equal-Parenting!.html] They appeared on Studio 1714. The videos are available on youtube. [cite web | first = Robert | last = Pederson | title = Equal Parenting Bike Trek Part 1 | publisher = Studio 1714 | url = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z-kgGHq5dtA | accessdate = 2007-09-05] [cite web | first = Robert | last = Pederson | title = Equal Parenting Bike Trek Part 2 | publisher = Studio 1714 | url = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XtakHZ2Rq_g | accessdate = 2007-09-10] They are online at cycling4children.com, and have been awarded a State of Michigan Special Tribute for their efforts. [ cite web | first = Robert | last = Pederson | title = cycling4children.com | publisher = Robert Pederson | url = http://www.cycling4children.com | accessdate = 2007-09-10 ]

Fathers For Justice Protest At Lincoln Memorial

On Friday, 18, August 2007, [http://glennsacks.com/blog/?p=1063] Jolly Stanesby and Mike Downes of the United Kingdom climbed the statue of Lincoln at the Lincoln memorial, revealed Captain America and Batman costumes, and placed a banner across his chest reading "For the Fathers of the Nation; Fathers for Justice". Fathers for Justice indicated that they intended more protests in the near future. [http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1Jc337XcEE]

Family Preservation Day Rally

A major national rally in Washington DC was held by Parents' and Family Rights Activists on Saturday August 18, 2007. [http://www.dcrally2007.com/] Advocates explicitly compare their movement to the civil rights movement, and point to long held US Supreme Court rulings that parents have a right to care for their children, the most recent being Troxel v. Granville.

Videos of some speeches are available:

Judge Willie Lipscomb Chief Judge 36th District Court Detroit, Michigan Part I [http://www.youtube.com/v/RpWQokcinLg] Part II [http://www.youtube.com/v/QAvNvMcUPlY] [http://www.36thdistrictcourt.org/judges-wlipscomb.html]

Tim McKyer - Three Time Super Bowl Winner [http://www.youtube.com/v/xbbeJnMMz-I]

Dr. O. J. Shabazz - Evangelist Harlem Church of Christ, New York, NY. Part I [http://www.youtube.com/v/0gYTDA8qxKA] Part II [http://youtube.com/watch?v=shWIAUPSORI] [http://churchofchristinharlem.org/ministers.htm]

Carol Rhodes - Former Michigan FOC (Friend of the Court) Enforcement Officer, Author Friend of the Court Enemy of the Family [http://youtube.com/watch?v=8M7cEi61W24] In her official capacity, she saw that "Families that were bleeding from the pain of divorce and separation were insulted, tricked, lied to, and deceived by persons without adequate training". [ cite web title = Carol Rhodes Former FOC Enforcement Officer | url = http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8M7cEi61W24 | publisher = youtube.com | accessdate = 2007-09-18 ]

Barry County Equal Parenting Symposium

This symposium took place in June 2007.

Carol Rhodes, Author of "Friend of the Court Enemy of the Family", explains that as a Friend of the Court worker, she was instructed to violate the law and lie to fathers and mothers. [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=7850198836388249853] .

Jay Fedewa, Executive Director of Family Rights Coalition, discusses the status of family law in Michigan [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2125328669291708941] .

Lary Holland [http://www.laryholland.com/] Explains Federal Title IV-D Funding Obstructs Equal Parenting [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-2832312333763008657] . He explained the view that Title IV-D funding is creating a financial incentive for the Michigan Friend of the Court and other state child support enforcement agencies to create problems between parents to cause enforcement actions for which they can collect federal incentive dollars. He created nationwideblueprint.com [http://nationwideblueprint.com/] advocating Title IV-D reform, advocating for income eligibility requirements to focus child support collections on the low income children who he states are being "drowned out" by a focus on collections for middle-income and high-income families. He argues that funding issues are a significant factor in preventing state legislatures from passing equal parenting bills.

Michigan Rep. Glen Steil Supports Equal Parenting [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=-4156511133053559439] .

Michigan Rep. Rick Jones Supports Equal Parenting [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6836292419255330741] .

Michigan Representative Fulton Sheen Supports Equal Parenting [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=6427656882460688426] .

Robert Pedersen on Equal Parenting and Bike Trek for Equal Parenting [http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=5754965651480761906] .

John Murtari

John Murtari has been arrested frequently for calking "I love Dom. Sen Clinton Please Help Us" and similar messages on the sidewalk of the Hanley Federal Building in Syracuse, NY. [cite web | last =Murtari | first =John | title =Federal Civil Rights Action For Parents | url = http://www.akidsright.org/clinton/ | accessdate = 2007-08-05 ] John Murtari has tried unsuccessfully for years to meet with Senator Hillary Clinton, who maintains offices in the Hanley Federal Building. He previously held a 6 month long jail house hunger strike. He is currently in jail.

Internet Videos

Dan Diebolt created "Straight Up" in honor of Rob MacKenzie's bike trek. [cite web | last =Diebolt | first =Dan | title =Straight Up | url = http://youtube.com/watch?v=65Cvu-sJGBM | accessdate = 2007-08-04 ]

Individual Rights versus States' Interests and Inequalities in Law

A fathers' rights activist, advises fathers about the Massachusetts family courts and its use of what have been referred to as phantom clinical evaluations kept in hidden files, secret hearings without the presence of both parents, and the doctoring of court hearing tapes. [cite web
last =McLarnon
first =Zed
authorlink =
title =Judicial Bias(?) - How It Works and How To Defend Against It
publisher =EJFI.Org
date =2002
url =http://www.ejfi.org/Courts/Courts-10.htm
accessdate = 2007-04-26
] A father's rights activist appealed to a Massachusetts state legislator who wrote an environmental law (named Anti-Slapp) intended to protect whistleblowers from punitive countersuits by corporations and which was rewritten by the Massachusetts Supreme Court to immunize mothers and social workers who file false allegations, noting that fathers have virtually no remedy for false allegations of abuse. [cite web
last =Del Gallo, III Esq.
first =Rinaldo
authorlink =
title =Anti-SLAPP Abuse In Massachusetts
publisher =FathersUnite.Org
date =2006-02-22
url =http://www.fathersunite.org/Judicial%20Abuse/antislapp_abuse_in_massachusetts.html
accessdate = 2006-05-16
] Barb Johnson, a litigator and member of the fathers' right movement, who unsuccessfully ran for governor of Massachusetts in 2002 on a platform of court reform, the need for judicial accountability, particularly in the family-law courts, and the abolishment of judicial and quasi-judicial immunity and who was later disbarred for what she describes as political reasons and for educating fathers about the improper assessment of guardian ad litem fees by Massachusetts family court judges, is currently attempting to create judicial accountability and abolish judicial immunity through her lawsuit against the Massachusetts Board of Bar Overseers et al. for acts of defamation and intentional interference with prospective advantageous business relationships associated with her disbarment. [cite web
last =Charalambous
first =Mark
title =Bar Wars gets ugly
publisher =The Fatherhood Coalition
date =October 2006
url =http://www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/Newsletter/Record0610.pdf
accessdate = 2007-05-07
] [cite web
last =Johnson
first =Barb
title =Barb's Revised Appeal of the Judgment of Dismissal
publisher =FalseAllegations.Com
date =2007-01-10
url =http://www.falseallegations.com/drano172-appeal-judgment-of-dismissal-app-ct-10206.htm
accessdate = 2007-05-16
] Fathers' rights activists protest the Massachusetts Department of Social Services (DSS), stating that its employees take children away from their parents without cause [cite web
last =Hession
first =Gregory
authorlink =
title =DSS Dirty Tricks Series
publisher =MassOutrage.Com
date =2003-01-06
url =http://www.massoutrage.com/dssdirtytricks.htm
accessdate = 2007-04-27
] adding that these employees, who they complain have improperly received immunity from the Massachusetts Supreme Court, [cite web
last =Baskerville
first =Stephen
authorlink =
title =MASSACHUSETTS' FAMILY 'JUSTICE'
publisher =NewsWithViews.com
date =2004-06-06
url =http://www.newswithviews.com/Baskerville/stephen1.htm
accessdate = 2007-05-07
] threaten mothers with the loss of their children to coerce them into divorcing their husbandscite web
last = Baskerville
first = Stephen
authorlink =
title = Divorce as Revolution
publisher = The Fatherhood Coalition, also Salisbury Review vol. 21 no. 4
date = Summer 2003
url =http://www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/newreadings/2003/Divorce_as_Revolution_SBsum03.htm
accessdate =2007-03-22
] and attending "support groups", which members of the fathers rights' movement state, serves the dual purpose of allowing the associates of the DSS employees to receive additional government funding for running the "support groups", and allowing the DSS employees to gain information used to take children away from their parents. Members of the fathers’ rights movement add with criticism of the vested interests and abuse of power involved, taking children away from parents is a source of additional funding for the Massachusetts DSS from the federal government (Title IV-E of the Social Security Act). [cite web
last =Moore
first =Nev
authorlink =
title =Inside A 'Batterers Program' for 'Abused' Women
publisher =The Fatherhood Coalition
date =2003-07-29
url =http://www.fatherhoodcoalition.org/cpf/newreadings/2003/NevIndepHouse0307.htm
accessdate = 2007-04-17
] [cite web
last =Moore
first =Nev
authorlink =
title =Mother and Children Ordered to ‘Termination Therapy’
publisher =Fathers Are Capable Too
date =2000-05-27
url =http://www.fact.on.ca/news/news0004/mn00042d.htm
accessdate = 2007-04-30
]

Fathers' rights and the media

Members of the fathers' rights movement have commented about a 2005 New York Times Sunday Magazine article that began with the words, “…custody determinations are traditionally based on what’s in ‘the child’s best interest.’ But some fathers are now arguing – and agitating – for rights and interests of their own.” Members of the fathers' rights movement criticized the article for creating a false dichotomy between children's best interest and fathers' rights. [cite web
title =New York Times Press Gives Major Press Coverage for Fathers
publisher =Fathers & Families
date =2005-05-08
url =http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/site/news.php?id=54
accessdate = 2007-05-27
and for failing to capture the human side of the fathers' rights movement.
] Members of the fathers' rights movement commented on a Public Broadcasting Services (PBS) documentary about Children and Divorce. They stated that unlike a previous PBS documentary, the show was balanced, but portrayed the fathers' rights movement as promoting conflict, adding that the average viewer does not discriminate between conflict in the public sphere, remote from children, and conflict in the home, which hurts them. [cite web
title =Dr. Ned Holstein Critiques PBS Film "Kids & Divorce: For Better or Worse"
publisher =Fathers & Families
date =2006-09-15
url =http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/site/news.php?id=174
accessdate = 2007-05-27
] Members of the fathers' rights movement protested a Boston Globe article about a case in which a father successfully prevented a mother from moving the children to her newly purchased home 70 miles away in another state. According to the fathers' rights campaigners, the article inappropriately linked the mixed feelings of the children to their inability to relocate with their mother and to the shared parenting arrangement of their parents rather than to their parent's divorce adding that the reporter and her editor were biased to the extent that the reporter willingly questioned the children about their living situation and thus exacerbated the conflict in parental loyalty felt by the children. [cite web
title =Write On! The Boston Globe writes a biased article; 4 members respond with letters to the editor
publisher =Fathers & Families
date =2006-07-26
url =http://www.fathersandfamilies.org/site/news.php?id=170
accessdate = 2007-05-27
]

Criticism

A legislator reported that he felt threatened by an email sent by a fathers' rights activist. [cite news
title =Message proves unsettling
publisher = Times Union
date =2006-06-26
url =http://timesunion.com/AspStories/story.asp?storyID=494753&category=STATE&BCCode=HOME&newsdate=6/26/2006
accessdate = 2007-03-24
] Women opponents at legislative hearings have reported harassment and threats of physical harm made towards them,cite news
last = Morgan Bolton
first = Michele
title = Custody Bill Fight Turns Frightful: Women's Groups Say They Are Being Threatened Over Their Stance On Legislation
publisher = Albany New York Times Union
date=2006-04-21
url =
accessdate =
] and members of the fathers' rights movement stated that it would not surprise them if the National Organization for Women and others fabricated the claims to get attention as part of a plan to paint non-custodial parents as extremists. Glenn Sacks, a prominent fathers' rights activist, has criticized persons he has called "the lunatic fringe of the fathers' rights movement", who describe the perpetrators of violent crimes against family court judges and others as "some sort of freedom fighters." [cite web
last =Sacks
first =Glenn
authorlink =
coauthors =
title =Do I Even Need to Say This?
work =
publisher =
date =2006-06-19
url =http://www.glennsacks.com/enewsletters/enews_6_19_06.htm
format =
doi =
accessdate = 2007-03-24
]

References


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