This page contains news for
the period Monday, January 10, 2000 through Sunday, January 16, 2000.
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
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.
Utah city's definition of 'family' could affect
singles who live together
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
"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
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
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
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
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
- 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
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
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.