Welcome to adulthood Gen Z: advice for boys aging into men.

As reported by Reason.com (Welcome to adulthood Gen Z) Pew research has moved up the millennials (19 to 36 years old in 2017) to welcome the next generation into adulthood under the moniker “Gen Z” (born after 1998).  Now that you’re 18 you’ve probably researched the “important” stuff, night time driving privileges and the age you can legally consume alcohol but there is some stuff that impacts men which you are probably not aware of.  So this paternalistic baby boomer card carrying member of Friends of Protection For Men and the National Coalition For Men, and a Men’s Rights Activist will give you a few pointers. At 18 you are an adult and will be treated like an adult.  Mistakes made now can have life changing and long lasting effects on your future.

MEN – Life isn’t fair, be ready for it.  You’ve probably been fed a regular dose of men are privileged and women downtrodden.  Edgar Allen Poe advised that we should believe only half of what we see and nothing that we hear.   This applies to what you have learned about men and society.  When faced with a “truth” which doesn’t apply to our actions we often accept the “truth” but figure it must be the other guy.  As you begin to navigate in the adult world you’re going to find that many of your assumptions about how things work are wrong.  Part of growing up is learning your own truth’s and what works for you in an ever changing society.  Unfortunately, some things you do have serious consequences if you are wrong.  Knowledge is power, so don’t take any one piece of advice as factual (even mine here), question everything, verify everything.

First up is Selective Service.  As a male you need to sign up for the military draft and if you fail to do so there are multiple penalties at both the state and federal level, including being charged with a felony, fined, and jailed.  The government tells us, “If a draft is ever needed, it must be as fair as possible, and that fairness depends on having as many eligible men as possible registered.”  Missing from their information is HOW IS IT FAIR THAT MEN HAVE TO REGISTER AND NOT WOMEN?  Most people will point to combat roles, indeed, it was the exclusion from combat in the volunteer military which was used to exempt women from the draft in the first place.  This is a ludicrous excuse as it takes 2 to 3 people working to keep one man in combat.  So we’ll draft  men to work in finance, planning, as quartermasters but not require women to do the same?  Now that the military has opened combat roles to women this lame excuse  has no bearing on serving.  Either EVERYBODY needs to register or NOBODY needs to register.  I would direct you to put this question onto your Congressman’s twitter or web page and ask them direct, remind them that at 18 you are now a voting member of society.  More is here at NCFM.

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Second is reproductive rights.  As a man YOU HAVE NONE!  Again, understand that MEN HAVE NO REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS!  The NYS Court of Appeals has even ruled that “a man’s right to reproduction ends at ejaculation”.   This is true even if she pokes holes in your condom or steals your sperm from a used condom in the garbage (and even if not used on her!).   If a woman gets pregnant she can abort the child against your will and has no obligation to notify you of this.  If she decides to have the child she does NOT have to notify you of that.  She can ask, and will receive, child support even for a child you did not want (no male aborting allowed) and if she hid the child from you for years and then seeks you out for child support you will be assessed back to the time of birth!  What sage advice do I have for this?  PROTECT YOURSELF AT ALL TIMES!  Short of abstinence there is no 100% effective method to protect yourself.   Women CAN, and DO, lie about their reproductive status so WEAR A CONDOM!  I suggest, “How To Avoid “Getting Screwed” When Getting Laid” by RK Hendrick, Esq. for practical suggestions.  Get it, read it, abide by it.

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Third up is False paternity.   Mommy’s baby is Daddy’s maybe.  If you are identified as the father of a child and you you accept paternity it can NOT be rescinded even if DNA testing later in life proves you are not the father.  There are many men paying child support for children that are not theirs (estimates run as high as 10%) and there are even legal instances where you can be named the father and have had no relations with the woman and are forced to pay anyway.  Women CAN, and DO lie about their reproductive status and the number of sexual partners and relations that they have.  Many are known to “Daddy shop”, naming a man who earns the most money as the father to maximize their child support even if they are not sure who the father is. The system is designed so you pay more for one child than for two so it is in a woman’s interest to have TWO baby daddy’s paying for “her” two kids instead of one paying for two.    Again, wear a condom, bring your own, and dispose of the used condom away from females. and ALWAYS get an at birth DNA test before admitting paternity!

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Fourth is Consent for sex – and false allegations of sexual abuse and rape.   Everyone understands that no means no (and this should apply to MEN also) but here are 3 areas where YES MEANS NO; Age of consent, intoxication, and her regret the next day.  It is the biased perception that all sexual abuse is perpetrated by men towards women (all women “need” protection) which has made it so that normal legal protections, the right of due process and innocent until proven guilty,  have been thrown out when men are accused of rape or sexual abuse.   This applies to criminal charges but is even worse in some institutions such as at colleges and universities and at work, especially those needing professional licensing.  Even if adjudicated “not guilty” the allegation and the negative perceptions of you will follow you throughout your life.  And, except in rare circumstances, there are virtually NO repercussions for making false allegation.

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If you get intoxicated with a female the intoxication will be determined to remove her ability to consent to sex but it will NOT remove your responsibility for having sex with her.  If equally drunk or stoned there is a very good chance you will be charged with rape because you are male.  There are even circumstances where a third party reports the “rape” of a female having drunken and/or consensual sex and the male is investigated and charged civilly.  The federal government has pressured colleges, threatening to remove funding, if they do not combat “sexual abuse” by applying “affirmative consent” rules to private sexual relations between consenting adults.   These rules have undermined due process on colleges.  The best way to protect yourself is to NOT have drunken sex.   The issue of colleges, affirmative consent, and the loss of protections for the falsely accused is reported on by Reason Magazine here.

Find out the age of consent in the jurisdiction that you are in!  And understand that there are different rules in each and every state and that also there are federal rules and criminal penalties.  As an 18 years old you will be treated and tried as an adult if you are having sexual relations with a female who is statutorily determined to be a child by age.  Sexting is a big problem as the transmittal of  “child pornography” is a federal crime, and the transmission of a photo of an underage female in her underwear to a male can be construed to be “child pornography” and you can be arrested for a felony, tried and/or coerced into pleading guilty, and have to register as a “sex offender” for the rest of your life.    You can find coverage of an individual case here and Reason Magazine has a good overview of the overreach and over reaction here.  Stop any “underage” sex and NO SEXTING!

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Regret reported as abuse will result in investigation and possibly criminal charges and civil actions.   The Duke Lacrosse case is a good example of the impact of false allegations.  People sometimes do regret the sexual situations they get themselves into, especially females, and especially if it is talked about or sent around on social media.  False allegations of rape and sexual abuse have been used by females to solicit sympathy and/or jealousy.  Allegations of sexual abuse can, and have, been made weeks and months after the incident and even if you are found to have not committed the act you can still suffer the stigma as the “Mattress girl” case shows.  Be careful not to put yourself into situations which could be construed as non consensual sex when looked at AFTER THE FACT!  You can get more information at SAVE-Stop Abusive and Violent Environments.

Fifth is Domestic violence, specifically disorderly incidents and false allegations by females.  IF YOU ARE A MAN YOU WILL BE TREATED AS THE PERPETRATOR OF DOMESTIC VIOLENCE EVEN IF IT IS MUTUAL, YOU ARE DEFENDING YOURSELF, OR YOU ARE THE VICTIM!  The fact of the matter is our response to domestic violence is a one sided affair which looks at men as perpetrators and women as victims.  What was designed as a shield to protect abused people is now a sword used regularly through false allegations.  Inversely, if you are a male victim there are almost no services available for you and most likely, if you are to report, you will end up being the one investigated.

Statutory protections and due process.  Every person is protected from assault by the penal code and if you are involved in an altercation with another person you can press charges or, in the case of a mutual disagreement or their being extenuating circumstances, decide to not press charges.  For the district attorney to prosecute they would require you to make a statement and then appear at trial.  If you declined to make a statement or appear then charges would not be pursued.  YOU decide to press charges, to make a statement, and to pursue a trial.  In cases of mutual combat between males (most often) charges would not be filed.  But remember, even in defense, most physical acts towards a female by a male will be viewed negatively and result in charges field against you.  However, the only recourse is through criminal court where you would need to be found guilty beyond a reasonable doubt (high standard of proof).  But that’s not true for domestic “abuse”.

While domestic abuse laws used to apply only to those related by blood or marriage or those who had a child together they have now been expanded to persons in an “intimate relationship” (intimate partner).  Thus the domestic abuse laws now apply to heterosexual and same sex dating couples including teenagers which is YOU.  Worse, there is no definition of “intimate relationship” so if she says she’s in an intimate relationship with you, you will be treated as if she is even if you do not consider her so.

This is important because if you are an “intimate partner” then the domestic violence laws apply to you.  Now both criminal court AND family court have concurrent jurisdiction.  There is Mandatory Arrest for any injury and if there are injuries to both parties (such as a mutual spat) then the police have to determine the Primary Aggressor.  Being a certified police domestic violence trainer I can tell you that “Primary Aggressor” equals “arrest the man”.

You also lose control of what will be done.  Should you both say neither wants to make a statement a regarding a private matter, one will be put on file anyway (Domestic Incident Report-DIR).  Should she say it was mutual and doesn’t want to press charges, but has a mark on her, you will be arrested anyway based upon Primary Aggressor and Mandatory Arrest Laws.  If she tells the district attorney’s office that she will not make a statement and press charges, you will still be arrested, arraigned in front of a judge, and made to either post bail or spend the night in jail.  You will have to hire an attorney and show up for a trial date and submit a motion before the case is dismissed for lack of evidence.

Should a woman be mad at you for any reason she can claim to be an “intimate partner” and file for an order of protection.  As family court has concurrent jurisdiction she need not file any criminal charges as she can go direct to family court and request the order.  Temporary Orders of Protection (TOP) can be obtained based on ex parte testimony (her word alone) and for even slim allegations such as “I’m afraid of him” and “I feel threatened by him”.  Once issued you will be ordered to stay away from her, including if you go to school together, work together, or live in the same neighborhood, thus disrupting your life.  They will even seize any and all firearms that you own.

It will be months before you get into family court for a hearing on the need and validity of the TOP and unlike criminal courts high “reasonable doubt” standard it is the civil court standard of “a preponderance of evidence” (51%).  In a “he said, she said” the judge will believe her and rule favorably.  Should you inadvertently violate the TOP, even if it is found later to be without merit and thrown out, you will be charged with a misdemeanor (up to a year in jail) and a second violation is a felony!

MEN, If you are involved in a disorderly, harassing, or physical altercation of any kind DO NOT STATE YOU ARE IN AN INTIMATE RELATIONSHIP WITH ANYONE, and if asked state it is a casual relationship only with any participants (the other party should do the same).  If it is determined to be a “domestic incident” the police lose all of their authority to use discretion in arresting and/or filling out a report.  You BOTH lose your right to NOT press charges or file a report.  If it was physical in any way state that you were trying to retreat and defending yourself from their attack and you do not (or do as the case may be) wish charges to be pressed against them AND MAKE NO OTHER STATEMENTS WITHOUT AN ATTORNEY.  There are severe repercussions for police NOT following domestic violence protocols so they are protecting their own interests and not yours and/or your friends.

I’ll close here with a welcome to the “life isn’t fair man’s world”.  I know this is a lot to consume, and in fact there is even more wrongs you’ll suffer as a man, high suicide rates, high work death rates,  DV victimization yourself, loss of access to your children post separation/divorce and punitive “child support” payments.  You can find more on these issues at the National Coalition For Men web site.   Domestic Violence and false allegations is covered at Stop Abusive and Violent Environments or Stop Abuse For Everyone.
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You can also find more on men’s and boys rights and issues on Facebook at Friends of the Protection For MenPFM/Boys Rights and Issues, PFM/College and University, PFM Men’s Human Rights Movement,  and PFM Men’s and Boy’s Health among others.  PFM was founded by RK Hendrick, the author of “How to Avoid “getting Screwed” When getting Laid” and you can reach him there.  Feel free to join the discussion.

 

I can be reached through Facebook on the PFM sites or at the “Coalition of Fathers and Families NY” Facebook site or at NY MAN.  Information used here is based on New York State and US Laws although much of it has practical applications in all jurisdictions. This is NOT legal advice and we direct you to seek competent counsel for your specific jurisdiction and circumstance.
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The author, Lt. James Hays (Ret.) is a recently retired NYS Law Enforcement Officer of  34 years, 9 as a supervisor.  I am also a 20 year plus men/father rights activist co-founder, past President and current Treasurer of the Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc., (501c3 Educational and Advocacy Organization) and Director of the NY Men’s Action Network (Blog link), (a grass roots political action group founded in 1997.  The opinions expressed herein are those of Mr. Hays and are not necessarily the opinion of any organization or individual mentioned herein.

 

What of men’s EQUAL right to reproductive choice?

Before we jump into the morality and start to discuss the “right” of a woman to get an abortion let’s accept the fact that it is now the law of the land. Let’s add the other “reproductive rights” of women to the discussion also.  She has the right of abstinence, to use birth control of her choosing prior to sex,  the “morning after” pill the next day, the right to carry a pregnancy to  term, the right to abandon the baby in a “safe” location without question, the right to place it for adoption, and no obligation to inform the father of any of her decisions.

And of men’s reproductive rights?  Abstinence, condoms, and trust in your partner to be telling the truth about her reproductive status.  As the NYS Court of Appeals has ruled, “a man has no right to reproduction post ejaculation”.  This unequal application of rights and responsibilities of many is codified in judicial opinion.   This is evidenced in multiple court decisions which held men FINANCIALLY responsible for children even where the female sabotaged the condom by putting pin holes in it, “stole” his sperm from a discarded condom or other means, and even when it is taken by means of rape such as a recent case shows us, http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/09/02/statutory-rape-victim-child-support/14953965/.   Men who claim they do not want the child of an unintended pregnancy are held responsible anyway, indeed, are even labelled ‘deadbeats” for not “standing up” and accepting paternity.

Recently a bill in the OK legislature has brought the issue of equal rights in reproductive choices to the forefront as the bill would require the approval of the father before a woman is allowed an abortion.  There was an immediate backlash from the left leaning women’s groups, the shout of “my body, my choice” resonating with posts spread all over social media to awake “women” to fight this “injustice”(http://www.csmonitor.com/USA/2017/0214/Oklahoma-lawmakers-debate-bill-requiring-men-s-permission-for-abortion-video?cmpid=FB.).

I felt compelled to post on the CSM Article an opposing view in the form of a question: Do men have no reproductive rights?  We seem to be able to find a father when she wants child support.  So if a man says he doesn’t want to pay for a child of an unwanted pregnancy he is a “deadbeat” but if a women wants to abort that child she is exercising her rights?  A woman who has a child against a mans wishes is again exercising her rights, but a man who would ask that the pregnancy give him the child he wants he is then “forcing” her?  So we’ll just give all reproductive rights to women and disregard that their choices affect the father, the child, and society at large?  And can we say anything about responsibility for these “unwanted” pregnancies when women have so many means of birth control at their disposal?

In addition to the “my body, my choice” and the “women carry the baby” what also followed was a host of “men be responsible” comments, the “HE got HER pregnant” perspective which, ironically, failed to see the irresponsibility of women who find themselves in need of an abortion.   The argument was framed around “her rights” and “his responsibilities” and when pressed both sides of the argument dismissed a man’s reproductive rights as ending at ejaculation, where his responsibility begins for her choice.

Not a single person seems to want to address the issue of how can we say men and women have equal rights when we deny men rights which woman have.  Lost also in the discussion is RESPONSIBILITY for the decisions.  For we see a woman can give away her financial responsibility by giving the child up for adoption or even dropping it off anonymously.  A man suffering an unintended pregnancy is forced to pay for her decision.  Her choice is his being forced to 21 years of income execution, the sacrificing of his body at work without compensation.  A poor woman witt a child gets welfare, a poor man with a child gets a garnished.

Perhaps the worst part of the denial of men’s reproductive rights is the fact that most men don’t walk away from the responsibility of her choice.  Most are like Nick Olivas, our rape victim.  At 14 he was statutorily raped by a 20 year old.  Fast forward 6 years and Olivas learns he has a 6 year old child as he is served with child support papers demanding payments from the time of the child’s birth, even though he was not old enough to consent and was never informed of the existence of the child and allowed to decide to be a part of the child’s life.

Now, at 24 Olivas is trying to be a part of his child’s life stating, “I can’t leave her out there.  She deserves a Dad”.  Here he’s finding out that the state isn’t concerned with a fathers emotional support and raising his children for they consider the financial support as separate from access.  And as he is sure to find out, there are a multitude of means to collect, even incarceration into a debtor prison if he can’t pay.  But there are no avenues to help him with, much less guarantee, his time and emotional support for his child.

And what of a child’s rights?  Is there no right to both parents?  In going after Olivas for financial support the state says they are “doing it for the child”.  Really?  So why didn’t the state demand to know the father up front?  Isn’t a child the product of both parents and doesn’t a child have a right to know both sides of their family tree and both heritages?  Can someone from the state explain how it was in the child’s interest to be denied her father, his love and support, for 6 years, and then to collect retro dollars on her behalf?  I’m waiting for that response?  Why is a fathers dollars more important than his love and nurture?

In arguing for his legislation, Rep. Justin Humphrey stated he believes excluding the man out of these decisions is adding to the break down of society.  Once again a man’s rights and a child’s rights are lost in the discussion and the requirement for the mother to notify the doctor of the child’s father was more to make him responsible than to protect his rights.  His bill did do one thing, it exempted rape from the notification requirement, something we do not do for boys who are raped.

The bill was described as being opposed by “reproductive rights advocates” on unconstitutional grounds.  The regional director of planned parenthood stated that “Oklahoma should trust women to make the choices that are best for them”.  I suspect the choices are made easier when others bear the responsibility for your choices but have no choice themselves.   The article should clarify that the advocates are for a woman’s reproductive choices without regard for the father, child, or society.

But as I read the U.S. Constitution I see it guarantees God given rights to every individual equally.  And so I close with the question, What of men’s EQUAL right to reproductive choice?

 

Remove the Stench from the Bench!

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The New York Men’s Action Network (NY MAN) and the Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. has for many years asked the parents the question, “are you happy with the system as it currently exists?”  If the answer was no we would encourage people to get involved in the political process and to make sure they registered in a party, vote in the primary and again in the general election. (find general advice on party affiliation, the NYS political process, and grass roots lobbying here http://nymensactionnetwork.org/advocacy-get-active.shtml)

The question would come up on who to vote for if both candidates were equally bad and we would advise to vote out the incumbent.  Or another option would be to write in a name, any name, as a protest vote.  This was especially important when you had only one candidate running and they were bad for men, fathers and families.

In the worst of the worst of political cronyism is when the two major parties would get together and cross endorse one candidate with a Democrat in one district and a Republican in the other, thus each party ensuring their hold on a position.  And in many districts the voter advantage for one party is so high that the other party doesn’t run a candidate and so the primary is the real election.  But here, party loyalty takes hold and most candidates won’t buck their own parties leadership.

Other than for Town Justice in New York State the “rules” limit the judicial positions to a member of the Bar Association.  So we not only have a one party monopoly, it is further limited to just attorneys who are forced to work not only in the party system but also in the court system, both of which would frown on a “maverick” stepping up to buck the system and tell the truth.

But this is family court, a court of equity and one dealing with people.  How is it that attorneys are more qualified to pass judgement on individuals?  Actually one would think that those in the medical or social science fields would be equally if not more so qualified.  And why would we rule out an everyday citizen?  We use a “jury of our peers” to ensure fairness in our criminal courts so why do we exclude these protections in our most important court, the one deciding the fate of our family and of ourselves?

So what’s a person to do?

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Yes, one Doug Smith is running to remove the stench from the bench and we here at NY MAN are encouraging everyone who finds themselves with a one person “race” for Judge, or a two bad person race to write in Doug’s name.  Especially those in Saratoga County in NYS.

No more standing idly by and not voting because you don’t have a good choice or any choice at all.  If you are tired of the stench that the parties keep sending to the bench, let them know you want an open, honest election of qualified persons.

The New York Men’s Action Network has found NO race with an impartial qualified judge not beholden to the system.  As such we endorse DOUG SMITH to REMOVE THE STENCH FROM THE BENCH and ask that you write in his name for judicial positions this coming election day.  By writing in your vote for DOUG SMITH you are letting the NYS Court system that you are NOT happy with their biased and inefficient system which ;lunders family assets all the while tearing them apart.

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If you wish to talk to Doug or to comment on the “REMOVE THE STENCH FROM THE BENCH” You can reach him, FaFNY, and NY MAN online at https://www.facebook.com/groups/Fathers4Kids/.

And remember VOTE for DOUG SMITH to REMOVE THE STENCH FROM THE BENCH!

I Do ………. agree to government control of myself and my family

I am a co-founder of the Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. and was its primary lobbyist for many years.  I have been following these issues now for 20 years, advocating for families.  While we initially focused only on shared parenting and court reform we also developed positions on issues such as unilateral divorce and and gay marriage.  As an organization our membership was made up of a broad base of the political spectrum, liberals, conservatives, and libertarians, men, women, parents, grand parents and extended family members who had one unifying experience, they had their rights violated in New York (anti) family and supreme courts.

FaFNY did oppose unilateral divorce and for many years were able to stop this legislation pushed forward by the NYS Bar Association.  Our 2004 memo in opposition (following at the end of this piece) to no fault divorce cited the negative consequences of single parent households on children, at the time standing at 24.7 million children growing up without one of their parents (usually the father).  We did note that our opposition, child focused and in the interest of the children, could be lifted with “ a corresponding overhaul of family and matrimonial law and statutory protections for children, spouses and/or parents wishing to preserve their marriages and maintain their families intact, and for those parties most likely to become non-custodial parents.”

Regarding the issue of gay marriage we took a neutral stance.  FaFNY, at that time, supported marriage as being as being beneficial to children but given the diverse membership who supported everything to all marriages to only traditional marriages, so we didn’t come to a consensus on the issue.  The one response that was universal within the organization was, why would you want to get married and subject yourself to these courts?  To that end the VP at the time, Randall L. Dickinson, wrote an op ed piece, “Be careful what you ask for…” (which I include at the end of this piece for your enjoyment).

Ultimately no fault divorce passed in New York.  But none of the measures put forth that would strengthen parental rights; shared parenting, terminology change from “visitation” to “parenting time”, court restructure and reform, mediation, collaborative law, grand parents rights, alimony reform (called maintenance in NY), nothing, nada, none, not a single piece of reform in New York’s Courts has been enacted.

Even on gay marriage the NYS Legislature kicked the can down the road, following Vermont passing “civil union” reforms first, then recognizing marriages of other states.  But on the issue of gay marriage, as in the reform of family and matrimonial law, the most dysfunctional legislature in the nation did nothing.  But now SCOTUS has changed all that, marriage between any two consenting adults is the law of the land.

My response to gays, or any other person for that matter, is why would you want to?  Why get a state sanctioned marriage license?  What are the benefits?  And the down side?  By saying “I DO” with license from the state you agree to a contract that holds no one responsible.  Worse, the contract and case law protects the defaulting party.  Even prenuptial agreements are no protection for the parties for they are routinely thrown out by the courts.

And one would expect that gay marriages will lead to children with adoptions, surrogate parenting, artificial insemination and new age techniques bringing children to married gay couples.  I can only imagine the field day the mostly incompetent judges will have deciding “custody” under these circumstances.  With two married biological parents the best the courts could do was to strip one of their parental rights, relegate them to visitor status with the “standard NY Order” of visiting every other weekend and one mid week 4 hour visit.  One can only imagine the violation of individual rights of a parent with no biological connection to their child.

Gays thought they were fighting for a right that other people had and which was denied to them.  In their ignorant bliss and fight for individual equality they, as most of us did before we suffered under the injustices of these courts, have entered a system which does not grant nor guarantee an individuals rights but works to plunder their assets, destroy their civil liberties, individually abuse them, and all the while being accountable to no one.

We tried to warn you.  But now I say, WELCOME to the family!  Perhaps when we have enough individuals and organizations which watch and suffer the abuses of these courts we’ll get large enough to change things.

Sincerely,
Mr. James Hays

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February 2004

Be Careful What You Ask For …

By Randall L. Dickinson

The recent Massachusetts Superior Court decision granting gays the right to marry and the highly publicized same-sex marriage ceremonies performed in San Francisco, are only the latest examples of what some are suggesting may become the most important social issue of the upcoming presidential election. As the debate intensifies, those on both sides of the social and political spectrum continue to define their positions on gay marriage, indeed, on the very definition of the institution of marriage itself. While those on the political left, backed by the Democratic Party and aided by the liberal press/media attempt to frame the issue as one of civil rights, conservatives on the right, backed by the Republican Party, promote a more traditional definition of marriage. Indeed, most recently, President Bush, himself, has called for a Constitutional Amendment that would clearly define marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Largely overlooked in all of the sound and the fury, however, is one aspect of the broader issue itself that gays and lesbians might want to ponder before proceeding much further on their quest for the Holy Grail of connubial bliss. Beyond the ideals of “marriage” and “family”, what are the realities associated with each in the late 20th and early 21st centuries; how have they evolved, what are the implications for those wishing to enter into the bonds of matrimony, and what happens when it all ends, and couples no longer wish to remain married.

Changes in state laws beginning in the early 1970’s have given a legal preference to any spouse wishing to leave a marriage, even if the other spouse wants to preserve the marriage and has done nothing to give the deserting spouse “grounds” for a divorce. Such laws have essentially acted to empower whichever party wants out, leaving the spouse who wants to preserve the marriage powerless to prevent its dissolution and with no recourse but acquiescence.

The marriage contract has, thus, been described as having been reduced to little more than a contractual economic partnership devoid of any legal protection. Maggie Gallagher states, in her book The Abolition of Marriage, that it has become “less binding than the average business deal. Marriage is one of the few contracts in which the law explicitly protects the defaulting party at the expense of his or her partner”. If all of our business transactions were conducted in a similar fashion, our national economy would collapse. With the marital contract now worth less than the paper it’s written on, why should we deceive ourselves into thinking that it is not having the same devastating impact on our marriages and our families.

Adding to laws that help facilitate the divorce process are others that drive the decision to initiate it. Research has shown that the single greatest factor in determining

which party is most likely to file for a divorce is the expectation of being awarded custody of the kids. Along with the kids usually comes a whole range of other financial benefits, as well, including child support, alimony, the marital residence, and one half of the remaining marital assets. With most states still adhering to the standard sole custody model, wherein one party receives the kids, while the other is left to pay, it’s not difficult to understand how at least one of them may perceive little or no downside.

The elimination of any need to establish grounds for a divorce was based on the presumption that both parties are equally motivated to end a marriage, and was supposed to make the process less adversarial and more amicable. Today, 50 percent of all first time marriages and 60 percent of all second marriages will end in divorce, 80 percent of them initiated against the wishes and the will of one of the parties. Ooops!

Such public policies as these have been supported by both liberals and conservatives alike. Ironically, many elected representatives, jurists, legal “experts”, and social services “professionals” who advocate for the right of gays to marry, at the same time continue to resist any reasoned consideration of the impact these same policies may be having on the dual institutions of “marriage” and “family” and the trap that may await those who sail blindly into these uncharted waters.

Nor has the institution of the Church been any great help. While continuing to pay lip service to the ideals of strong marriages and healthy families, most churches today appear reluctant to address the issue of divorce for fear of offending their congregations, large portions of which having experienced the phenomenon of divorce either directly or indirectly in some manner. Preferring to go along in order to get along, many churches that haven’t chosen to ignore the elephant in the room altogether, have simply adopted a policy of acceptance. Rather than providing assistance for couples struggling to save their marriages, and admonishing them that the Church will not condone divorce as an option, some churches have, in essence, begun to legitimize divorce by performing so called “New Beginnings” ceremonies designed to help divorcing couples “move on” with their lives. Today the divorce rate among those professing to be Christians and who claim to attend church on a regular basis is higher than it is for the general population overall. Coincidence? Maybe, but it’s difficult not to draw certain inferences.

Before the gay and lesbian community becomes myopic in its passion for the equal right to marry, it might be wise to consider, as well, the need to lobby for the equal right to certain protections under the law following divorce. Matrimonial and Family Law, including those dealing with the custody of children, the “equitable” distribution of marital property, and child support standards are in desperate need of a major overhaul. Without such reforms, rather than embarking on a journey toward nuptial bliss, many gays and lesbians may find that they have unwittingly entered into a Faustian bargain, ending in the inferno of Divorce Hell. The message for gays and lesbians is crystal clear: be careful what you ask for; you might just get it.

Randall L. Dickinson resides and works in the Albany, New York, area and is Vice President of the Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc. The Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc. is a not-for-profit public information, education, and lobbying organization dedicated to the advocacy of family related issues and to preserving the relationship between fathers and their children. Its national affiliate is the American Coalition of Fathers and Children.

 

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The Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc.,

an affiliate of the American Coalition of Fathers and Children,

Date:            November 11, 2004

 

To:            Members of the New York State Assembly/Senate and Executive Branch.

 

From:            The Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc.

 

Re.:            Memo in Opposition to No-Fault Divorce

 

 

 

The Coalition of Fathers and Families NY, Inc. is opposed to No-Fault Divorce without a corresponding overhaul of family and matrimonial law and statutory protections for children, spouses and/or parents wishing to preserve their marriages and maintain their families intact, and for those parties most likely to become non-custodial parents.

 

No-fault divorce is ill advised because:

 

  • No-fault divorce laws have produced a failure rate among all first time marriages of 50 percent, and 60 percent for all second marriages.

 

  • Eighty percent of these divorces are initiated against the will and without the control of one or the other of the parties.

 

  • This rate of family dissolution is responsible, in part, for producing 24.7 million children growing up in the U.S. without at least one of their parents (usually their fathers).

 

  • The devastating impact this is having on children has been extensively documented, is well known, and is widely recognized. Virtually every social and/or behavioral dysfunction and psychological pathology experienced by children and young people today can be directly traced to the absence of at least one of their parents, and 80 percent of all child abuse occurring in single parent households.

 

However well intentioned the proposal to reduce the cost and stress associated with the divorce process, it is difficult to rationalize how any demographic, except the initiator of divorce, can be said to have benefited from making divorces easier to obtain. More fundamental then is the question of whether or not it is really in the best interest of the State or the Nation to promote divorce in such a manner.

 

After almost thirty years of experience with no-fault divorce laws it is widely recognized that, in effect, it has given a legal preference to any spouse wishing to leave a marriage, even if the other spouse wants to preserve the marriage and has done nothing to give the deserting spouse “grounds” for a divorce. These laws have essentially acted to empower whichever party wants out, leaving the spouse who wants to preserve the marriage powerless to prevent its dissolution and with no recourse but acquiescence.

 

Marriage is one of the few contracts in which the law explicitly protects the defaulting party at the expense of his or her partner. The marriage contract has, thus, been described as having been reduced to little more than a contractual economic partnership devoid of any legal protection.

 

If all of our business transactions were conducted in a similar fashion, our national economy would collapse. With the marital contract now worth less than the paper it’s written on, why should anyone deceive him or her self into thinking that it is not having the same devastating impact on our marriages and our families.

 

Adding to laws that help facilitate the divorce process are others that drive the decision to initiate it. Research has shown that the single greatest factor in determining which party is most likely to initiate a divorce is the expectation of being awarded custody of the kids. Along with the kids usually comes a whole range of other financial benefits, as well, including child support, alimony, the marital residence, and one half of the remaining marital assets, to name but a few. With many states – most notably New York – still adhering to the standard sole custody model, wherein one party receives the kids, while the other is left to pay, it’s not difficult to understand how at least one of them may perceive little or no downside.

 

Without a corresponding overhaul of the entire body of family and matrimonial law and statutory protections for those most likely to become non-custodial parents, no-fault divorce will only produce more of the same devastation in the lives of countless innocent people. The Coalition of Fathers and Families New York, Inc., vigorously opposes and will not consider supporting any such proposal, otherwise.

 

 

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