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U.S. News Archive
January 10 - January 16, 2000

 

 

 
 

 

This page contains news for the period Monday, January 10, 2000 through Sunday, January 16, 2000.

 

 

 

 

<<   January 2000  >>

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Saturday, January 15, 2000


Single mother by artificial insemination denied request for child support from ex-boyfriend

A story published today in the Chicago Sun Times reports that a woman living in the suburbs of Chicago cannot get child support from the former boyfriend who she says persuaded her to bear two sons with an anonymous sperm donor, a Cook County judge ruled Friday.

"It's not fair," said Alexis Mitchell, though she had expected to lose her ground-breaking effort to have Raymond Banary legally declared the father of her 6-year-old twins.

"For him to think he can just not support his children," she said. "We talked about having children. He was the one who helped me every step of the way. It was planned."

The story says that Mitchell will appeal Judge Gay-Lloyd Lott's ruling, hoping to change Illinois law so all children born through artificial insemination have the same rights, even if their parents never married.

Lott found that Banary never signed consent forms for artificial insemination, a document that is required for married and unmarried couples. And, Lott noted, Banary is not the biological or adoptive father of the twins.

Banary, 65, a football coach at Chesterton High School in northwest Indiana, was not available for comment.

The story says that Mitchell, who is black, says she spent 10 years with Banary, who is white, but never knew he was married. During their relationship, she says he convinced her to bear children, and paid for the artificial inseminated with a white sperm donor so the children would have some resemblance to him.

Mitchell said she eventually learned Banary was married after they broke up in 1996 when the two children were 2 years old. The children, who referred to Banary as "Dad," haven't seen him since, she said.

"He doesn't come around," Mitchell said. "The twins ask for him. One of them even cries and asks why he doesn't come around anymore."

 

Wednesday, January 12, 2000


Utah city's definition of 'family' could affect singles who live together

A story published today by the Utah Statesman reports that the City of Logan may redefine the term "family" to prevent more than two unmarried people from living together in areas zoned for single-family use. This could be bad news for many Utah State University students living in homes in Logan.

Currently, traditional families related, adoption or marriage or three unrelated people and their children are allowed to live in homes in traditional neighborhoods. The stipulations on groups living in single-family zones could soon be changed to allow only two unrelated adults and their children.

The story says that the proposed definition, derived in part from a Supreme Court ruling, describes a family in a traditional neighborhood as "living and cooking together as a single housekeeping unit." Technically, a pair of college students wouldn't necessarily fit the definition if they don't cook together or live as a single housekeeping unit.

Community Development Director Eric Toll said neighborhoods are concerned about how the character of the neighborhood is affected when a home changes from owner-occupied to a rental unit. According to Toll, rentals often have more occupants than allowed by ordinance. A change in policy would significantly affect the rental market.

The city will hold a public hearing on the proposal to redefine what makes up a family.


Single parents and other families in D.C. to get more educational resources

A story released today by PR Newswire reports that Washington D.C. Mayor Anthony Williams, Freddie Mac Foundation, and Catholic Charities announced the Freddie Mac Foundation Parenting Education Initiative, a new city-wide parenting program to ensure all parents in the District, regardless of neighborhood or income, have access to vital parenting education classes and resources.

Of the 100,000 children who call Washington, DC home, 58 percent live in single-parent households; 40 percent, in poverty. The extra difficulties these families face can make parenting seem overwhelming, but the truth is it is a challenge for all parents, regardless of their situation.

That's where the innovative new Freddie Mac Foundation Parent Education Initiative comes in. The only universal parenting education program being created by a major city in the United States. Initial funding of $375,000 has been provided by the Freddie Mac Foundation. The program will be administered by Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington in conjunction with the Office of Early Childhood Development, the D.C. Public Library and the Washington Parent Education Collaborative. To further support the program, the Foundation also announced a $400,000 grant to enhance the facilities where Catholic Charities operates to ensure the program's effectiveness and quality.

"A sound education starts with strong families," said Mayor Anthony A. Williams. "This unique partnership will support parents as first teachers, and give our children the foundation they need to succeed in our schools. I commend Catholic Charities, Freddie Mac Foundation and all of the committed partners who are making this possible."

For five years, the partner organizations have offered limited parenting education. The Freddie Mac Foundation grant will have an immediate impact by expanding the number of available classes by 30 in the first year alone -- a sixty percent increase -- and by 120 in years two and three. In addition, 20 additional parent educators will be trained each year. Ten percent of the new classes and educators will be Spanish-speaking.

"For children, hope, opportunity, and bright futures often have their roots in strong grounding and support from parents. That's why we believe that the most important future investment we can make is by investing in our children," explained Maxine B. Baker, Executive Director of the Freddie Mac Foundation. "For years, Catholic Charities has provided a high quality, holistic and integrated parenting education program, and we're proud to be helping bring this excellent service to even more families."

The classes, administered by the Catholic Charities Parent Education Project, will cover topics such as defining family rules, giving clear messages, helping children set goals, giving meaningful praise and stopping negative behavior. Participants may sign up directly, through a community agency or be referred by the courts. Each course will be customized to the needs of the community where it is held. A unique feature of the program is the ongoing support available to participating parents. Even years after they have completed the program, they may call their instructor for assistance on dealing with a new situation. This recognizes the reality that parenting always presents new challenges.

 

Tuesday, January 11, 2000


First unmarried couples granted co-parent adoptions under new California rules

A story published today in the San Francisco Chronicle reports that the state Department of Social Services has just begun to implement a new policy approving joint adoptions by unmarried couples in California.

Just a few months ago, Jennifer Bader and her partner, Valerie Breedlove, were told by the state of California that they could not possibly be legal parents together.

But thanks to a recent change in state policy, the Madera women have become the first of what are likely to be hundreds of rural gay and lesbian couples to be recognized as equal parents.

The story says that the state Department of Social Services decreed in November that social workers could stop automatically rejecting unmarried couples as adoptive parents. That policy, ordered 12 years ago by former Gov. George Deukemejian and continued under former Gov. Pete Wilson, worked largely against lesbian and gay couples.

Despite the policy, second-parent adoptions became common in the Bay Area, where judges tended to interpret state law liberally. But not so in California's heartland.

Because of the change this year, lesbians and gay men outside urban centers are likely to apply for adoptions in greater numbers than ever before, advocates for gay parents say.

"It's a huge relief for me and all those who do second-parent adoptions,'' said Diane Deering-Paulsen, a child welfare worker with Alameda County Social Services. "We're the ones out there seeing these wonderful families, and to have to deny them at the end was something none of us wanted to do.

"For those of us in the field,'' she said, "it's something we've wanted and hoped for a long time.''


Hillary Clinton opposes gay marriage, favor domestic partnership rights

A story published today by the Associated Press reports that influential gay groups are expressing disappointment with Hillary Rodham Clinton for coming out against legal recognition of homosexual marriages.

Mrs. Clinton, the likely Democratic nominee for the U.S. Senate, said Monday that she favors full benefits for partners in homosexual relationships but that marriages should be between a man and a woman.

''Marriage has got historic, religious and moral content that goes back to the beginning of time, and I think a marriage is as a marriage has always been, between a man and a woman,'' Mrs. Clinton said after a news conference.

 

Monday, January 10, 2000


Virginity now a badge of honor for some unmarried young people

A story published today in the Sun Herald reports that more young Americans are proud of the fact that they are choosing to remain virgins until they marry.

Twenty years ago, Eric Nielson would have been an oddity on New Jersey's Rutgers University campus, speaking unabashedly as he does about choosing to remain a virgin. But these days, Nielson, 18, figures half his male friends are virgins, and none has been teased for his choice.

''For me, it's a matter of waiting until I find the right girl,'' said Nielson, a freshman. ''It's not a moral thing; it's just what feels right inside. I want to feel very emotionally attached to someone before I have sex with her.''

The story claims that a generation after the sexual revolution dazzled young people with the promise of freedom and excitement, the culture of liberation has lost some of its luster. Not only has the level of sexual activity among unmarried young people slackened in the past decade, after years of increase, but attitudes have shifted as well.

Group dates are now fashionable, a way to avoid pressure for intimacy. Virginity, a source of humiliation since the 1960s, is now more often a badge of honor. And casual sex is not as widely accepted as it once was. College students today are more likely than their '70s counterparts to view such dalliance as immoral - this at the same time that other adults, even senior citizens, have become more easygoing about sex outside of marriage.

''There's a real awareness on campuses these days that sexual choices are serious choices, that they involve people's emotions and bodies in serious ways,'' said Meryle Kaplan, who runs the women's center at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J. ''It's not just about AIDS, either. A generation ago, sex was about personal expression and liberation. Now there's more awareness of sexual violence and consequences - the idea that it's your body; take care of it.''

The story lists a number of findings from large-scale studies by the University of Chicago, the University of California at Los Angeles, and the Urban Institute:

  • The proportion of adolescent males who approved of premarital sex when a couple does not plan to marry increased from 55 percent in 1979 to 80 percent in 1988. By 1995, it had dropped to 71 percent.
  • A record low of 40 percent of college freshmen agree that ''if two people really like each other, it's all right for them to have sex even if they've known each other for a very short time.'' That's down from 52 percent in 1987.
  • The proportion of 18- to 24-year-olds who frown on sex before marriage, calling it ''always'' or ''almost always'' wrong, has jumped more than 50 percent since 1972, to more than one in four.
  • Rates of sexual activity have flattened and even declined after climbing steadily from the 1950s through the 1980s. The proportion of 17- to 19-year-old males who reported they were still virgins, for example, jumped from 24 percent in 1988 to 32 percent in 1995.

Market researchers are calling the trend ''neo-traditionalism.'' They predict that patterns of dating, marriage and child-rearing among today's young adults may turn out to be more like those of their grandparents than of their parents - even as they reject traditional gender roles and are more open to gay and interracial relationships.

The story says that to some, the predictions of a broad culture shift seem far-fetched. True, the level of sexual activity among 15- to 19-year-olds has eased, but it's still well above what it was before the ''free love'' culture of the 1960s and 1970s. And although premarital sex may be less acceptable than it was a decade ago, the number of cohabiting couples under age 25 doubled from 1980 to 1996.


Group of Palm Beach lawyers guiding couples to peaceful divorce

A story published today in the Sun Sentinel reports that a nonprofit association of Palm Beach County attorneys is offering an alternative to messy divorces.

Called collaborative law, it involves getting both parties to sign an agreement stipulating they will not engage in litigation. Then they sit down and mediate a settlement before filing any legal briefs.

Both sides walk away without the hefty legal bill and emotional scarring that comes with most acrimonious divorces.

The Collaborative Divorce Lawyers Association of Palm Beach County was established in October, and its founders say they will be ready to start taking cases next month. The association also will provide training and education and promote collaborative law as an alternative in Florida.

"I felt like there had to be a better way," said co-founder Valerie G. Kanouse, a Boca Raton family attorney.

That philosophy helped Beverly Kole, whose first marriage ended in a "rough" divorce 10 years ago. When Kole's ex-husband stopped making child support payments when their eldest child turned 18, she went to Kanouse. Kole and her ex-husband agreed to sit down with her to work out an agreement and avoid costly court litigation and aggravation. The ex-husband resumed the payments several weeks ago.

"It was as pleasant as it could be," said Kole, who remarried last week. "In some cases, (mediation) may not work. But in most cases, they should try it."


Study says that gay men make better fathers than straight men

A story published in the Glasgow Daily Record reports that homosexual men may make better fathers than straight men, according to a controversial new study.

And researchers say there is no evidence to suggest the parents' sexual orientation will influence their children.

The study by Dr Gill Dunne, of the London School of Economics, involved 100 gay fathers. It found that homosexual men tend to be more nurturing and compassionate towards their children than heterosexual fathers, who are inclined to leave the emotional side of parenting to the women.

The study concluded that compared to heterosexual men, homosexuals are more likely to maintain a strong and understanding link with their children after any split with a partner. They were also more likely to be on good terms with the ex-partner.

According to the story, Dunne's interviewees included men who had fathered children while still in heterosexual relationships, but she also talked to gay men who had fathered children through surrogacy.

The report has outraged church and pro-family groups who believe that homosexual parenting is an outrage and will leave children vulnerable to "homosexual propaganda".

Dunne's study emphatically states that no brainwashing occurs between a homosexual parent and his child.

She says many gay men felt that, as youngsters, they were under enormous pressure to conform to their own parents' idea of sexual normality. Their experiences make them more sensitive to their own children.

 

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