Steele in Court/ MI Ballot Initiative/ Your FEEDBACK - goals & methods

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From: John Murtari (
Date: Mon Jan 04 2010 - 18:09:56 EST

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Good People & People of Faith,

This message has info on:

1. Andrew Steele Court on Wed, Jan 6th - can you go?
2. Declaration of Family Rights - a starting point.
3. Michigan - Ballot Initiative.
4. AKidsRight.Org - a FaceBook cause/group?  Your help?
5. Your FEEDBACK - Goals & Methods.

1. Andrew Steele Court on Wed, Jan 6th - can you go?
We've sent several updates on Mr. Andrew Steele, the parent who was
arrested a month ago for writing on some Courthouse walls in the
Boston area.   He has been held in jail this entire time.

An update was sent in from Mandy Varona <>.  Andrew
has a Court date for Wednesday, Jan 6th, at the Brockton Courthouse,
215 Main St, Brockton, MA.  The time is 9 AM.

Map Link:

I'm sure he'd appreciate anyone who can be in attendance.  If you do
go, please send me an update on what happened.

2. Declaration of Family Rights - a starting point.
Many of us lament the 'bickering' which seems to prevent useful action
on Family Law reform.  Perhaps one reason for the confusion is the
lack of a concrete & effective goal.  Something people can read and
say, "If this had been in effect, my family would have avoided

It's gratifying to see a steady increase in signatures for our
Declaration of Family Rights,

When you have time, please go there and sign the petition if you
agree.  Any FEEDBACK you have, pro or con, is welcome.

Also, we have over 100 people that have signed up at the National
Parent's Leadership Council web site, http://www.NationalPLC.Org/ --
supporting the same goals.

3. Michigan - Ballot Initiative.
[ Many states allow voter ballot initiatives.  You get the signatures,
your issue gets put on the ballot during the next election.  Every
state has different rules, but it is certainly something to consider.
Below is some info on the state of Michigan.]

Contact: Darrick Lynn Scott-Farnsworth <>

> Please respond if you:
> 1. Believe that we should put together a ballot proposal signature drive in
> Michigan or your state to change the state family law to protect the
> parent-child relationship in the case of divorce or separation? 
> 2. If so, are you willing to help by recruiting others to gather signatures?
> 3. Are you willing to gather signatures?
> 4. Are you willing to contribute funds towards the cost of this effort? 
> 5. What state and county are you willing to be active in?
For more discussion:

4. AKidsRight.Org - a FaceBook cause?  Your help?
I've gotten some suggestions about creating a FaceBook Cause/Group/Fan
Page for AKidsRight.Org and a strong presumption that we are FIT &
EQUAL parents.  It sounds like a good idea and I would welcome some
help in setting up/managing that type of effort.

If you have been a member of the group for a while and support our
goals and methods, http://www.AKidsRight.Org/approach.htm -- give me a
call in the next few days (315) 944-0999, x-211 or email me at
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org to discuss.

5. Your FEEDBACK - Goals & Methods
Here are some of your thoughts, and you always get the LAST word
in a dialog.

--- Darrick <>

> We are the perfect victim, we don't have a lot of money to defend
> ourselves in court with well paid lawyers. We don't want to get into
> legal trouble with the law because we don't want to lose the time
> that we have with our children that we do have. 

> We tend to fade away once our children are grown or we end up in
> jail or dead from depression and not giving a crap about life...

> Like I wrote before, I think it would be great if on Parent's Day,
> Mother's Day, Father's Day etc that people would individually decide
> to face the consequences of chalking the public sidewalk with
> parental rights messages. I will consider working with some others
> in Michigan to organize another rally at the state capitol building
> by getting a permit to be there.

---  Lucille  <>

> To all May I please point out that there is a big difference in
> writing with chalk on a public sidewalk.  Kids do it all the time
> without having their hands slapped,
> But when you write on someones wall, car, fence, etc you are really
> defacing property, and demeaning what you have set out to do.  It is
> not a good way to fight and can work against the whole reason to get
> attention.  It can also come back and bite you on the but. BIG.
> Do it properly and you will be rewarded.  Continue this way of
> defacing and a bad name and reputation is brought upon every one.
> Please think About it.

Many people feel as you do and I'm not sure there is a 'right' answer?
This idea of "Family Rights" is sort of a new thing, and maybe we
don't know how to deal with it.  Let me give you another example, and
please send me your response.  It is based on material we have on
Martin Luther King and the fight against segregation,

Assume the year is 1950, the place, a small town in Alabama, and your
already a "white" passenger sitting in the front of a segregated base.
It's how it has always been, and you feel things are better with the
races separate, but you could go along with sitting together also --
but it's not your issue.

You need to get to your destination at a specific time, if you are
late, you are going to miss a connecting bus for vacation (or be late
for an important legal meeting, etc...).

Suddenly, at the next bus stop, a bunch of Black Freedom Riders get on
your bus and sit in the front.  The Bus driver tries to talk them into
leaving or he has to call the cops.  There are other riders like you,
and it's going to screw everybody up if the bus is stuck there because
of this 'protest'.

You and the other passengers try to plead with the Black protesters to
just get off, they have proved their point, no need to also get your
lives screwed up.

They are very polite, but they refuse to leave.  They will make the
bus sit & wait till the police show up and arrest them.

You and a lot of other people get your day fouled up.  The next day,
you write a "Letter to the Editor", what would you say?

-------- Lucille responds

> Thank you for the reply.  I do not see how this fits together with
> using drastic measures of defacing other peoples, or public property
> to get attention.

> There are other methods that can be used and come out a winner.  to
> those who are so angry that they cannot see or reason straight, this
> may really seem appealing.  That is why gangs write on walls and
> alley fences.  It get negative attention, not the kind that is
> really needed.

> I stand by what I have said.  This is something that we do not even
> encourage our children to do.  It is sending wrong messages to the
> wrong people.

--- Scott Hopkins <>

> I have thought about your question about our goal of shared
> parenting. It has been simmering in my mind.  I have come to the
> conclusion that it is right on.  Unless there is a conviction by a
> jury dealing directly with the health and safety of the child, equal
> parenting should justly be the only answer.
> Unfortunately, we can't even get the idea of shared parenting
> across.  Congressmen don't care or worse, see the value of the
> custodial/non-custodial setup for the state. The media has a skewed
> vision of masculinity that invites contempt and is very difficult to
> take seriously.

> Sadly, the worst problem are the men themselves. By and large the
> fight has been taken out of the American male. We bluster and we
> groan and we shake our fists, but very few are willing to suffer for
> what is right the way you are. When I talk to men who have gotten
> the shaft in court, they complain, but don't want to do anything
> about it.   I can't even get men to write to congressmen.  They are
> mad, but they are timid and fearful ... perhaps of confrontation
> ... perhaps of losing the pittance that they still have left.

> This war will never be won. This system will never be changed until
> men in this country act like men. What is only continues because of
> what we are.

I think your comments are very accurate.  We cry & complain, but when
it comes to doing something.....  I really think that will happen with
time.  When parents begin to realize their basic dignity is being

---  Don Mathis <>

[ This was a long dialog.  Don (text below with '>') cares a lot about
reform and I hope the back & forth helps us all think about the issue
and how we define and protect Family Rights? Is a former porn star who
was convicted of tax evasion a FIT & EQUAL parent? Our original
message: ]

> Janine Lindemulder was ok for Jesse James to have sex with. And if
> he knew neither were using birth control, he must have figured she
> was good enough to be a mother. So perhaps a tax-evading porn-star
> lover-of-a-drug-user lover is good enough to be a mom.

> But maybe James was wrong. Maybe he had sex with her under the
> conception that she was on the pill.
> I do think it was right for James to have custody while Mom was in
> jail. And I do think she has to prove herself fit to regain 50/50
> shared custody. 'Judge Mathis' would order a Social Study.

I wanted to get back with you on your reply. As far as I know, the
government never proved her 'unfit' -- unless we are going to say
anyone who goes to jail for a 'serious' crime needs to be controlled
around their kids?

I thought the Declaration of Family Rights was pretty simple,

It is her 'right' to be presumed Fit & Equal, just as it was yours and
mine.  What would you add/subtract to make it fit in with your
reasoning above?  Isn't that the whole problem with the present system
-- you have to prove to the Court that being with your child is
actually good for your child?

I know you have thought hard about this stuff and I think a lot of
people share your perspective.

> She was presumed Fit & Equal before she stepped outside the law. Her
> punishment was prison. After her probation, should she be considered
> fit and equal again?

Not sure if we are talking about the same standard? A lot of people
break the law.  You can see the wording in the Declaration of Family
Rights -

I don't think you would see a unanimous jury verdict against her using
those standards?  What standards would you like?

> I can accept the statement, "Good, average, & poor parents are Fit &
> Equal parents."  But I cannot accept a criminal parent as fit and
> equal.

> To clarify, MLK was criminal in the eyes of the law but he was a fit
> parent. But his crime was civil disobedience; his crime hurt no one.

> Brittany Spears is another example. Her mental state renders her
> unfit, in mho.

> Do you think it might not all be about whether Janine Lindemulder is
> fit?  Do you think the judge may be considering the fact that her
> husband is a convicted felon?  I would hope the judge knows what the
> conviction is for. Do you!

The question is, what is the standard?  What is the definition of
Family Rights?  I'm not sure, but from your messages I think you would
say it's a case-by-case decision and the legal system has to make the

> I dislike the idea of the legal system making a call based on
> allegations. But when one is a convicted felon, that is a fact. And,
> yes, I do believe such facts should play a part in the decision.
> Don.

                                       John Murtari
Coordinator                            AKidsRight.Org
jmurtari@AKidsRight.Org         A Kid's Right to BOTH parents"
(315) 944-0999(x-211)             http://www.AKidsRight.Org/

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