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Historic Meeting Inaugurates New Civil Rights Movement for Parents.

Syracuse, New York (April 17, 2000) - While thousands were in the streets of Miami cheering Elian Gonazalez, some local parents visited the offices of Congressman James Walsh searching for answers. Last Thursday a mom and three dads sat down across from staff members asking for Civil Right's legislation protecting their ability to be parents. Staff member Kimberly Kemp told them this was the first time anyone had approached the office with such a request. They were aware of no pending legislation in this area.

John Murtari, coordinator for Kids-Right.Org, had organized the meeting as an outgrowth of his recent efforts to highlight the need for action by silent "walks" inside both the County Courthouse and the Federal Building. The other parents in the group also held leadership positions within local Parent's Rights organizations, one was a member of VOCAL (Victim's of Child Abuse Laws). The parents answered several concerns from the staff members:

  • "We haven't had a lot of interest in this type of legislation" -- The parents explained they were going to try to create interest by getting folks to contact their representatives. A National effort is being planned for Mother's Day. has a growing list of parents who plan to visit their representatives on the Friday before Mother's day.
  • "This is not an issue for Congress. Family Law has traditionally been done by the States ..." -- They explained this was about Civil Rights, the rights of parents and children to be together. Very similar to slaves winning their freedom, or women winning the right to vote. It should not matter what state you live in.
  • "Lower courts have already decided on this, it is an item for the Judiciary to decide" -- In the early 1800's U.S. Courts had held, including the US Supreme Court, that slaves were "property". In the 1900's Courts had ruled that women did NOT have the right to vote -- again, the issue was one of Civil Rights.
  • 'This would be handled by the House Judiciary Committee, and Congressman Walsh isn't on that committee." -- We told them that Congress Walsh was our local representative, he was the person we VOTE for to represent our interests. He could certainly introduce a Bill and contact the Judiciary committee members himself is he had a strong interest.

When the meeting concluded they were told that advice would be sought from the Congressman's senior staff in Washington on how to proceed. As the group members left the building they discussed the continuing news of Elian Gonzalez (an unfortunate "poster child" for a movement that says the fix involves recognizing the basic Civil Rights of parents and children). "What is the "best interest of the child" - a hundred different people would argue a hundred different positions." It is not for the government to decide without much stronger protections.

Kids-Right.Org would like to see Congressional hearings into Family Law Reform and passage of the Family Rights Act. The solution the group recommends to this would involve giving the parent/child relationship the same Constitutional protections offered most criminals -- the Jury.

The web site highlights the philosophy and experience of both Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, two great practitioners of Civil Disobedience, who practiced a style which showed respect and love for your opponent, while demonstrating your own belief through personal Non-Violent Action.

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Background: For more information check the web site,, or contact: (there are video clips of the last protest available).

Murtari's office can be reached at 315-635-1968,x-211 The Mother's Day 2000 site can be found at:

A spokesperson for the Kids-Right.Org group, Mary Chancellor (Tennessee), can be reached at: 423-326-0585 The February Issue of the Yahoo Internet Life Magazine also had an article regarding the Kids-Right.Org web site.