Men, Myths, and Masculinity in the News- 10/14/09

October 14, 2009

Marriage Resource Center puts focus on fatherhood

In the quest to strengthen marriages in Carroll County, the Marriage Resource Center has turned its attention to fatherhood.

The Marriage Resource Center brought together more than 100 people Friday morning to a Fatherhood Summit at Grace Hall in Westminster.

Amy Gilford, community relations director and assistant director of the Marriage Resource Center, said promoting fatherhood has become one of the main themes for the group.

“We didn’t start out thinking fatherhood,” Gilford said of the organization, but she said statistics are showing the absence of fathers has negative outcomes on marriages and children.

The summit was arranged so that those in attendance would have a chance to voice their concerns about the lack of services for fathers and the social stigmas and stereotypes dads face, and then work on how to improve them.

Groups talked about why dads are important and then came up with ideas about how to empower and improve fatherhood.

Groups suggested media campaigns with commercials, making Father’s Day a bigger holiday, having more education on the role of fathers and promoting good dads with awards.

The event’s keynote speaker, Rozario Slack, an author from Tennessee who promotes fatherhood, said he liked the format of the event because it gave people a way to feel connected to the issue.

“I think almost every social issue can be alleviated through positive fatherhood,” he said.

Carroll County Times

President of National Baptist Convention Misses Mark on Connecting Children and Fathers

By Robert Franklin, Esq.

The Reverend Julius Scruggs was recently elected president of the National Baptist Convention, a largely African-American organizations that claims 7.5 million members.  So it was interesting to read Rev. Scruggs’ thoughts on the importance of fathers and families to the wellbeing of his parishoners and members of the National Baptist Convention.

He gives those thoughts on pages four and five of this interview (The Tennessean, 10/4/09).  Rev. Scruggs seems to understand the value of fathers to children, mothers and society generally.  He’s obviously read some of the massive accumulation of sociology that shows that, across all lines of race, class, educational level, religion and national geography, children with fathers tend to do better than children without.  They are more likely to avoid drugs and alcohol, crime and prison; they are more likely to stay in school.  If they’re girls, they are less likely to become pregnant.

Women with husbands are less likely to be injured by domestic violence and to live in poverty than are women without.  Men who are active fathers are less likely to commit crimes and abuse drugs and alcohol than are men who aren’t.  They’re also more likely to be employed.  In short, active, engaged fatherhood is good for everyone and we’ve known it for decades.  So it’s no surprise that the Reverend Mr. Scruggs knows it too.

But, like President Obama and so many others, he seems not to know the many ways in which our society separates children from their fathers.  Family and adoption law, of course, are the main ways, but Rev. Scruggs never mentions the law in his thoughts about connecting fathers with children.  Like President Obama, he seems not to notice that courts deny fathers custody in 84% of cases.  He never mentions that those same courts do little to enforce visitation orders.  Temporary restraining orders, issued on little or no evidence and without an opportunity by the restrained party to rebut the charges also get a pass.  The almost entire lack of legal consequences for paternity fraud goes unmentioned.  That’s true too of the child support industry which begins with orders that can’t be paid and ends in many cases with debtors’ prison, an institution many believe to have been abolished in Dickens’ time.

Nor does Scruggs seem to be aware that popular culture is routinely opposed to fathers and fatherhood, portraying dads as either incompetent at or uninterested in childcare.  That’s when it’s not depicting them as an active menace to children’s lives.  To quote the TV comedy/drama Boston Legal, “Denny: ‘Fathers, screw ’em.’  Allen: ‘Damn right.'”


Ensuring child-custody protection

Military parents shouldn’t be punished for deployment

By Rep. Michael R. Turner

America’s men and women in uniform place themselves in harm’s way every day without regard for their own safety. They fight for their country and for their families. Given their measure of dedication to our defense, it’s unacceptable that these same soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines, guard members and reservists would be forced to forfeit their right of child-custody protections just because they are deployed for months or years far from home. The lack of parental custody rights for active-duty military parents remains a stark omission from federal protections granted to our service members.

Unfortunately, the absence of child-custody protections for our military parents is not by accident. Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates remains opposed to federal child-custody protections simply because the Pentagon views such protections as “a matter of state law concern.” Rather than working to implement a federal protection that would not infringe upon state law, which I am currently advocating in Congress, the secretary is blocking any such effort, opting to pursue a lengthy and unlikely course of urging each state to change its own laws. Mr. Gates refuses to meet with me to discuss this.

Ironically, the House-passed fiscal year 2010 National Defense Authorization Act includes language expanding military-personnel protections in terminating cable-TV, Internet and telephone-service contracts without penalty. The Pentagon has no problem with federal protections making sure a soldier isn’t treated unfairly by his cell-phone company, but guaranteeing his or her right to retain the custody of a child while deployed is not a priority. It’s a disservice to our military personnel to think their leadership does not value their commitment enough to provide needed federal child-custody protection while on active duty.

The faces of our fighting force are a reflection of our diverse society. Military mothers and fathers spend grueling and lonely tours of duty that test and stretch family bonds. But in too many instances, our active-duty military kiss their children goodbye, only to return from deployment to learn that they’ve lost their child-custody protections. This is of no comfort to a mother or father deployed to Iraq who cannot focus on their mission for constant worry that the children for whom they are sacrificing their lives may not be there when they come home.


CAFC Wins a Major Victory For California’s Disabled Veterans:

California Alliance For Families and Children (CAFC) is announcing another victory for military service personnel and veterans. Today Governor Schwarzenegger signed into law SB 285, a bill to protect disabled veterans disability compensation from illegal attachment and garnishments.

The bill, SB 285, was authored by California Senator Rod Wright. It was introduced at the request of CAFC in cooperation with the American Retirees Association (ARA), a group we have a long association with .

SB 285 codifies existing federal law, United States Code, Title 38, Section 5301 into our states statutes to assure it is followed in our state courts. Although federal law is very clear in its wording and intent, civil court judges nationwide have routinely ignored it. The result has been illegal attachments and garnishments of the disability compensation and erroneously calculating veterans’ disability compensation into divorce settlements as a divisible asset or income.

Once again the experience and effectiveness of CAFC proved its worth. SB 285 passed California legislature without a single no vote, even though similar efforts in Iowa, West Virginia and Oklahoma have failed so far. We hope our victory will revitalize efforts in those states. CAFC is pleased to announce we have already received commitments from legislators in Arizona, New Mexico and Texas to follow the California lead.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this announcement this was another national first to correct inequities that veterans have faced in our courts spearheaded by CAFC. CAFC also lead the nation in passing laws to help protect military parents’ child custody rights and fair child support treatment. What CAFC started in 2004/2005 has now led to approximately 30 states passing laws and changes at the Federal Level. For more details on our work for military parents please read this recent AmeriForce story and here.

CAFC wants to express our heartfelt appreciation and gratitude for Senator Rod Wright’s unwavering willingness to stand up for our nation’s disabled veterans and the American Retirees Association for sponsoring the bill. CAFC also want to thank all of the approximately twenty four veterans groups that are part of the California State Commanders Veterans Council (CSCVC) and CSCVS for their support and help.

There is still a lot of work ahead and your help is the only way CAFC can continue our efforts to finish the job. We feel honored and privileged that our efforts are helping. A generous donation to CAFC will help us continue this valuable work.


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