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U.S. News Archive
March 13 - March 19, 2000





This page contains news for the period Monday, March 13, 2000 through Sunday, March 19, 2000.


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Friday, March 17, 2000

Bill would allow gays, unmarrieds to adopt partners' children in Connecticut

A story published today by MSNBC reports that a bill that would allow unmarried adults to adopt their partners' children is making its way through the General Assembly for a second time. The Legislature's Judiciary Committee on Friday sent the bill to the House on a 27-13 vote.

A similar measure passed the House last year, but was amended to ban same-sex marriages. That amendment killed the bill in the Senate, which never debated the proposal.

According to the story, the bill was written after the state Supreme Court ruled that a lesbian could not adopt her partner's 6-year-old son because the law restricts adoption to married couples. Connecticut law does not recognize gay marriages, but allows single gay people to adopt. The bill was amended to make clear that it will not impact current marriage laws.

In deciding the "Baby Z" case in January of 1999, the Supreme Court said the Legislature, and not the courts, must establish adoption and family policy. In that case, the child's mother was impregnated by artificial insemination, using sperm from a man who legally surrendered his parental rights. The mother and her partner planned the conception together, and the partner was present at the boy's birth.

"If the child considers the person a parent, then the law should provide similarly," said Rep. Michael Lawlor (D-East Haven).

Opponents of the bill say it erodes the concept of traditional marriages. "This is another step along the way where we are denigrating and taking away from the public policy standard that we ought to have with respect to marriage," said Rep. John Wayne Fox (D-Stamford). "What does this say about the institution of marriage?"

New Seattle group celebrates National Single Parents' Day

A story published today in the Seattle Times reports that a new group has been formed at the Northshore YMCA in Seattle to bring the area's single parents together through parenting classes, workshops, counseling, support groups and family outings.

Three single parents spearheaded the formation of the new program.

The story says that Kris Nardo never thought she'd be a single mom but became one last year when her husband suddenly died of heart failure.

Margot Mader is twice divorced at age 35 and juggles a full-time job with three part-time jobs to support herself and her two kids.

Michael Siminiski is part of a growing but largely silent minority: single dads.

One of their first big events is on Sunday in celebration of National Single Parents' Day, established by Congress in 1984. Carnival games, relay races, prizes and food will be available as parents and their kids get a chance to meet other single-parent families.

While single-parenthood doesn't carry the stigma it did 20 years ago, isolation and lack of a support network mean most single parents, the vast majority of them women, have to grieve over a failed marriage or the death of a spouse alone, said Vana Moore, the YMCA business manager who created the Y's Single Parent Program.

"The thing about single parents is you don't feel married and you don't feel single. You're in a category all your own, and it's a struggle looking for role models."


Wednesday, March 15, 2000

Louisiana high court considers constitutionality of sodomy law

A story published today in the Baton Rouge Advocate reports that Louisiana Supreme Court will be the scene of a showdown April 11 over the constitutionality of a 195-year-old Louisiana sodomy law a state appellate court struck down last year.

The "crime against nature" law, which makes oral and anal sex between consenting adults felonies punishable by up to five years in prison and applies equally to homosexuals and heterosexuals.

In voiding the long-standing law in February 1999, a unanimous three-judge panel of the 4th Circuit Court of Appeal said noncommercial, consensual oral and anal sex is protected by the right to privacy in the Louisiana Constitution.

In its ruling, the 4th Circuit judges reversed Mitchell Smith’s 1996 conviction and sentence: a three-year suspended jail term and two years probation. Smith was accused of raping a woman.

Orleans Parish Criminal District Judge Patrick Quinlan acquitted him of rape, but found him guilty of "crime against nature" because both Smith and the woman admitted they engaged in oral sex. Smith testified he had consensual oral sex with the woman.

The Orleans Parish District Attorney’s Office appealed the ruling to the state Supreme Court.

The American Civil Liberties Union joined the case on Smith’s behalf, arguing in documents filed at the high court that the state has no compelling or even rational interest to justify criminalizing private, noncommercial sexual activity between consenting adults whatever their sexual orientation.

The high court has consolidated Smith’s case with a challenge from several accused prostitutes who say the crime against nature law punishes accused prostitutes more severely for soliciting oral sex rather than intercourse.

Under the crime against nature law, oral sex for money is punishable by up to five years in prison. Prostitution, defined as offering intercourse for money or trade, is a misdemeanor with a maximum sentence of six months.

In the Smith case, the 4th Circuit judges said they examined constitutional cases on sodomy laws in other states, rejecting arguments that sodomy is immoral, discourages procreation and leads to short-lived and shallow relationships.

The judges also cited a 6-1 decision by the Georgia Supreme Court in November 1998 that struck down that state’s 165-year-old sodomy law because of privacy rights guaranteed in the Georgia Constitution.

In 1986, the U.S. Supreme Court upheld Georgia’s sodomy law by a 5-4 vote, saying consenting adults have no constitutional right to private homosexual conduct.


Monday, March 13, 2000

Author says childless workers get the short end of the stick

An article published today in the Los Angeles Times reviews a recently published book entitled "Baby Boon: How Family-Friendly America Cheats the Childless" (Free Press).

The author of the book, Elinor Burkett, says that parent-friendly office policies and tax breaks discriminate against employees who don't have children. Although there are millions of single parents in the workforce, the majority of single workers do not have children at home. The book therefore, has implications for this large segment of the single population.

The Times' article asks: Who picks up the slack when Betty leaves early to take Janie to the doctor? Who goes to Cleveland on a moment's notice or works the holidays or covers when Joe leaves early to coach his son's Little League team? Working folks without kids, that's who, according to Burkett.

And by the way, ever notice that parents get more job benefits and tax breaks than people without children? What happened to equal pay for equal work? So goes the position championed by Burkett, 53, a married, "childless by choice" veteran journalist.


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