This page contains news for
the period Monday, October 04, 1999 through Sunday, October 10, 1999.
<< October 1999 >>
Sunday, October 10, 1999
Lack of photo ID often thwarts process of
According to a story published today in the Jackson Citizen
Patriot, fewer than 56 percent of the babies born at Foote Hospital to unmarried parents
last year went home with a legally recognized father. Foote Hospital is located in
Camie Wollet, an administrative assistant who oversees the
hospital's efforts to determine paternity, estimated that number would be as high as 80
percent if only more unmarried dads fathers had picture identification.
"They say they are stolen or they don't have them with
them," she told the newspaper. "I don't know if they don't have it or if they
just say they don't because they're scared to sign the paper."
Hospital records show that in n 1998, about 41 percent of the
babies born at Foote were born to unmarried parents.
When an unmarried woman gives birth, the hospital gives the
father an option of filling out a paternity form, stating that both he and the mother are
in agreement that he is the baby's father.
"The problem with the younger crowds is that not all
gentleman have a picture ID," Wollet told the paper. She is a notary public who
serves as witness and notarizes the form acknowledging paternity.
However, Wollet tells moms not to panic if the dad does not
have photo identification at the hospital. Paternity can be done up until the child's
third birthday at the Family Independence Agency.
Friday, October 8, 1999
Catholic Cardinal Insists Single People
Remain Chaste Until Marriage
An article published today in the Chicago Tribune reports
that Cardinal Francis George of the Archdiocese of Chicago set a serious tone in his
speech opening the 6th annual conference of the National Association of Catholic Diocesan
Lesbian & Gay Ministries.
George told the gathering that homosexuals are welcome in the
church but that all unmarried couples, including gays and lesbians, must remain chaste
until marriage. That poses a Catch-22 for gays and lesbians since the church does not
recognize homosexual unions.
"What I said is not always easy," George said at
the Arlington Park Hilton.
Washington State Judge Suspended for
Treatment of Unmarried Defendants
An Associated Press story published today in the Seattle
Post-Intelligencer reports that the Supreme Court of Washington has suspended a Pierce
County judge for six months without pay for overstepping his authority, violating the
state constitution and bullying defendants.
The court's ruling said that Municipal Court Judge A. Eugene
Hammermaster demonstrated "a pattern of intimidating and offensive behavior" and
"ignorance or disregard of basic legal principles."
The suspension resulted from several misdeeds by the judge,
including making threats to unmarried men that he would imprison them unless they stopped
living with their girlfriends.
Although unmarried cohabitation formerly was a crime in
Washington, that law was repealed many years ago. As a result, there was no legal basis
for the judge's attempt to regulate the living arrangements of male defendants.
International Group Urges More Access to
Information and Contraception
Advocates for Youth issued the following press release today
on U.S. Newswire. The group is an international, nonprofit organization that creates
programs and supports policies that help young people make safe, responsible decisions
about their sexual and reproductive health.
Citing the fact that of the 6 billion people in the world,
more than 1 billion are age 15-24, Advocates for Youth President James Wagoner called on
U.S. and global policy-makers to recognize the importance of young people, "When it
comes to the quality of life on this planet, a billion young people are in the driver's
"This is the largest generation of youth in the world's
history. The decisions young people make now regarding their sexual and reproductive
health -- the timing and size of their families -- will be the single most important
factor on world population over the next century," said Wagoner. At the current rate,
global population will reach 12 billion in less than 75 years.
"With the vast majority of adolescents worldwide
becoming sexually active before the age of 20 (80 percent in the U.S.); with 15 million
teen births each year (more than a half million in the U.S.); and half of all new HIV
infections occurring in young people under the age of 25 (both globally and in the U.S.);
we need realistic policies that protect young people's health and lives," concluded
Wagoner called on policy-makers, both domestic and
international, to follow the recommendations of the International Conference on Population
and Development (ICPD) to increase sexuality education at all school levels, to provide
confidential access to contraception for all sexually active adolescents and to pursue
rigorous public health strategies to reduce HIV/AIDS.
Additionally, Wagoner called on U.S. policy-makers to honor
America's commitment to international family planning and to support the recent White
House $100 million initiative on HIV/AIDS treatment and prevention in Africa.
A BILLION YOUTH: FACTS AND FIGURES
|Global: Worldwide, the majority of men and
women, married and unmarried, become sexually active during adolescence. (The Second
Decade: Improving Adolescent Health and Development, Geneva: World Health Organizations,
|U.S.: By age 20, 84 percent of all U.S. males
and 72 percent of all U.S. females have had sexual intercourse. Most young people begin
having sex in their mid-to-late teens. (Changes in Sexual Behavior and Condom Use Among
Teenaged Males: 1998 to 1995, American Journal of Public Health, 88, June 1998)
|Global: Worldwide, each year approximately 15
million children are born to adolescent women (married and unmarried), accounting for 11
percent of all births. (Issues in Briefs: Risks and Realities of Early Childbearing
Worldwide, New York: AGI, 1997)
|U.S.: Each year, almost 1 million American
teens -- 10 percent of all women aged 15-19 and 19 percent of those who have had sexual
intercourse -- become pregnant. (Teenage pregnancy: Overall Trends and State-by-state
Information, New York: AGI, 1999)
Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STDs)
|Global: Sexually transmitted diseases (STDs)
are increasingly common among young people. Globally, each year 1 of every 20 adolescents
gets a STD. (The Second Decade)
|U.S.: In the United States, every year 3
million teens -- about 1 in 4 sexually experienced teens -- acquire an STD. (Sex and
America's Teenagers, New York: AGI, 1994.)
|Global: Worldwide, half of all new HIV
infections -- 7,000 new infections a day -- are among young people aged 15-24. (Into a New
World, Washington, D.C.: AGI, 1998)
|Global: Five young people in the world will
contract HIV/AIDS every minute of every day. This means 2.63 million young people every
year. (AIDS Epidemic Update, UNAIDS, December 1998)
|U.S.: One-half of all new HIV infections in the
United States occur in young people under the age of 25 and one-quarter of new infections
occur among people between the ages of 13 and 21. (Young People at Risk: HIV/AIDS Among
America's Youth, Centers for Disease Control, October 1998)
|U.S.: Two young people in the United States are
infected with HIV every hour of every day. (Youth and HIV/AIDS: An American Agenda, Office
of National AIDS Policy, 1996)
Thursday, October 7, 1999
Two-thirds of sexually active, unmarried
women at risk of exposure to sexual diseases
An article published today in the San Francisco chronicle
reports that men who secretly sleep around are putting 3.5 million unsuspecting American
women at risk of contracting the AIDS virus or other sexually transmitted diseases.
The conclusion is based on a new study released by the New
York-based Alan Guttmacher Institute.
Lawrence Finer, senior research associate at the institute
and co-author of the new study, noted that couples in which the man has multiple partners
are no more likely to use condoms than are strictly monogamous couples. Few men, he added,
are apt to suggest using protection with their main partners after beginning a secret
Based on surveys taken between 1988 and 1996, the study
estimated that at least 17 million U.S. women -- or a third of all sexually active females
between the ages of 18 and 44 -- are at risk of contracting a sexually transmitted disease
(STD), through multiple partners.
The survey found a substantial discrepancy between what men
say about their promiscuity and what women believe about their male partner's activities.
Some 24 percent of the men reported having had more than one partner during the past year,
far higher than the 15 percent estimate from women asked about their partner.
The difference between the two findings led to the new
estimate of 3.5 million sexually active women unknowingly at risk of possible exposure to
a sexually transmitted disease. Whether this risk actually leads to infection was not
answered in the Guttmacher study.
The survey showed that indirect risks tend to be highest for
younger, lower-income minority women, particularly divorced women or women who have never
Formerly married women had odds seven times higher than
married women of being at risk, while the potential for indirect exposure was nearly twice
as high among women in their late teens than among women in their 40s.
The bottom line was that about two-thirds of sexually active,
unmarried women and teens are at risk of exposure through multiple sex partners.
Unwed Birthrate Up Slightly in United States
A story published today in the Washington Post reports that
the proportion of births to unmarried women rose slightly between 1997 and 1998, from 32.4
percent to 32.8 percent nationwide on average.
The finding was released by the latest federal study of birth
and death statistics conducted by the National Center for Health Statistics.
Monday, October 4, 1999
U.S. Supreme Court to rule on visitation
rights for grandparents
An article published today in the Los Angeles Times listed
several important cases on the docket of the Supreme Court during its new term which
One of the cases which could affect unmarried parents is
Troxel vs. Granville, 99-138). The court will answer the following question: Do
grandparents have a right to visit their grandchildren when this is in the child's best
interest? The Washington Supreme Court said no, on the theory that parents have sole right
to control their children.
All 50 states have laws which give judges discretion in a
divorce proceeding to order a parent to allow a third party (such as a grandparent) to
visit the child involved in the court proceeding. Some courts have ordered the biological
parent to allow his or her former unmarried partner to have visitation with the child they
were once raising together, even though the unmarried partner is not the child's
As a result, the grandparent visitation case before the
Supreme Court has major implications for domestic partners when one partner is the
biological parent of the child and the other partner is a "step parent" or
"de facto" parent so to speak. The case also has implications for grandparents
and other relatives who would like to continue to visit with a child after the child's
The court will render its decision by next June.
Prenuptial guide available
A story published today in the Jacksonville Times-Union
reports that Debt Counselors of America is offering a guide to prenuptial agreements for
unmarried couples who do not plan to marry any time soon.
The non-profit counseling organization has a new publication
to help couples living together salvage their individual property if the relationship ends
up falling apart.
Entitled ''Living Together: A Financial Contract for
Unmarried Couples,'' the publication covers property owned before living together;
property inherited or given during the relationship; property bought during the
relationship; and expenses during the relationship.
The booklet costs $2.50 and is available over the Internet
from www.GetOutofDebt.org or for $5 by mail from DCA Publications, P.O. Box 8587,
Gaithersburg, Md., 20898-8587.
Rhode Island high court holds an
Rubano v. Dicenzo is a
precedent-setting case involving two lesbians battling over visitation rights involving
Brian, a seven-year-old boy who was five when the couple separated. Concetta Dicenzo, the
birth mother, and Maureen Rubano, her partner at the time, parented Brian from birth until
their separation. According to attorneys, the child calls Rubano his "heart
Dicenzo and Rubano began living together in July 1987 and started
planning to rear a child in 1989. Brian was born December 15, l991. The parents first
separated in1995, reconciled, then split permanently in March1996. After the separation,
Rubano continued to care for the child during the day. In July1996, Dicenzo made different
arrangements for day care and would not allow Rubano to pick him up. By fall, Brian was
allowed to visit Rubano only every other weekend. Rubano petitioned the Rhode Island
Family Court for visitation rights when Dicenzo reneged on a consent agreement for
visitation made in May 1997.
When Rubano appeared in Family Court last year to request
enforcement of the consent agreement, Jeremiah held Dicenzo in contempt of court and
ordered her incarcerated at the state prison until she agreed to comply. She did so that
night after a last minute appeal to the state Supreme Court, which upheld his decision.
Because Rubano didn't have a relationship with the child birth, Jeremiah asked the Supreme
Court for a ruling.
When the Rhode Island General Assembly created the Family Court in
1961, it tried to cover all circumstances which the court might need to decide. At the
time, gays and lesbians as life partners with children were rare or non-existent, so the
statute does not cover such relationships.
GLAD authored and submitted to the Supreme Court an amici curiae, or
friends of the court, brief supporting Rubano's rights to visitation. Joining the brief
were the Rhode Island Alliance for Gay and Lesbian Civil Rights, the state affiliate of
the American Civil Liberties Union, Youth Pride, Rhode Island Jewish Family Service,
Children's Friends and Services (the nation's oldest child welfare organization), the
Rhode Island State Council of Churches, the Rhode Island Coalition Against Domestic
Violence and the Northern Rhode Island YMCA.
"The definition of family includes supportive families of
intention and function, families of biology and also of commitment," Mary Bonauto,
civil rights director of Gay and Lesbian Advocates and Defenders (GLAD), told Bay Windows.
"We take the position that the child should continue his relations with both
Other states have included such relationships in court rulings.
"Sometimes the courts do decide against the birth parent," Bonauto said.
"Massachusetts, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and New Jersey courts have done so, but New
York, California and Florida have not. These are devastating, heartbreaking moments
because the legal system doesn't always recognize actual parent-child relationships as
On June 29, the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court ruled that a
lesbian who is the non-biological parent should have visitation rights and granted her
legal standing to seek custody of her then four-year-old son.
Rubano's attorneys, law and life partners Cynthia Collins and
Cherrie Perkins, told Bay Windows the courts should rule in the best interests of the
child because Brian recognizes their client as his "heart mother." The was the
crux of Collins's oral argument before the Supreme Court.
Maureen DiChristofaro, an attorney whom the Family Court appointed
guardian ad litem to represent the views of the child, recommended that an ongoing
relationship with Rubano was critical to his development, Collins said. In her view,
DiChristofaro's report was the most compelling information.
Rosina Hunt, Dicenzo's attorney, told Bay Windows the state
Legislature is the proper government body to address the issue, as well as that of
same-gender marriage. "[My client] is married now but [the union] is not recognized
by the state." Hunt sees a precedent in Titchenal v. Dexter, a case decided by the
Vermont Supreme Court. "There, the justices ruled that the courts may exert equitable
powers on common law, the Constitution and laws enacted by the Legislature but they cannot
make new rights. Only lawmakers can do that."
Hunt disagrees that Rubano should be recognized as a family member:
"We are saying that it is a fairness issue. My client did not consider them a family.
She refused to allow [Rubano] to sign the child's birth certificate. [Rubano] brought her
to a lawyer to sign adoption and parenting document. My client refused. And now that there
is some animosity, [Rubano] is trying to inject herself into their lives." Hunt
contended the couple maintained separate finances and that Rubano had her own house and
never put Dicenzo's name on the deed.
"You can stretch the concept of family very thin," she
added. "When the child was only two and a half years old, my client moved to a
separate apartment for financial reasons. They were not lovers any more. The other side
says they were and that they were merely separated."
In her Supreme Court oral argument, Hunt said the state Legislature
is the proper venue for deciding the rights of unmarried and separated parents. She said
the Legislature should enact a special statute.
Justice Maureen McKenna Goldberg asked Hunt why she did not mention
Brian in her argument. "What are his best interests?" she asked.
Chief Justice Joseph Weisberger focused on the constitutionality of
court versus legislative action and how the courts are going to respect parental autonomy.
"Why would this not encompass unmarried couples?" Weisberger said, inferring
that the case already was included in the jurisdictional statute.